September 10, 1959 — October 29, 1993
The Snowy Owl AIDS Foundation is a fully recognized charitable Foundation established in memory of Louis Turpin.
Louis knew how lucky he was to be surrounded and supported by friends and family and also knew too well how many others were not quite as fortunate and wanted something to be done to help. He taught us about the disease and helped us to see how we could make a difference.
On the day of Louis’ death, as family and friends were gathered to share in his passing, an enormous snowy owl appeared just outside his window. For those present, that magnificent bird represented comfort and hope.
At that moment the snowy owl became a symbol of the love, compassion, and beauty of the human spirit which is seen every day in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Since Louis' passing, the power of the snowy owl has inspired us to create this lasting organization in his memory.
Founded in 1995, the foundation began its journey with the publishing of the book "Look Beyond—The Faces and Stories of people living with HIV/AIDS" photographed by Michelle Valberg, assistant photographer Jacqueline Turpin. Michelle and Jacqueline journeyed across Canada in search of people willing to share their faces and stories. This resulted in our first successful fundraising event in 1997, with the launch of the book.
In 1998 we took part in the “At Your Service” dinner organized by the Ottawa Senator’s Foundation where over $80,000 was raised for the HIV/AIDS clinic at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. One of the evening’s exciting moments was when a copy of our book “Look Beyond” signed by Elton John was auctioned off and sold for $ 500.00. Seeing the book displayed on each table and knowing that the event was dedicated to AIDS Awareness encouraged us to continue to find other ways to raise funds in order to make a difference in the lives of those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS
April 26th, 1999 marked our first joint venture with Bruce House. "A Taste for Life" where 28 restaurants valiantly joined our fight and agreed to donate 25% of their proceeds for that evening’s receipts. In 2006, 9 other communities in Ontario joined in to make this a most successful event raising both awareness and funds. It is estimated that over 50,000 people will have had "A Taste for Life".
November 1999, was our first donation to Bruce House for their Red Ribbon Campaign. Since 1995 Bruce House has produced Ottawa's major AIDS awareness initiative through a red ribbon campaign aimed predominantly at young people. Over the years a variety of innovative educational campaigns have been devised. By far the most successful of these has been developed in cooperation with Oni Joseph (Oni – The Haitian Sensation). Oni has developed a slam poetry workshop for teens and tweens that combines AIDS awareness messages with clear and dynamic information on the causes and consequences of unsafe sexual practices as they relate to AIDS infection. In 2001 the Foundation became its title sponsor.
AIDS walk Ottawa is our second most successful fundraising event. Having taken part since 1994 the foundation became a partner in 1996 and continues to support the efforts to raise funds and awareness.
None of this could have been accomplished without the generous donations received.