By Jason Hewlett
Daily News Staff Reporter
When Guy Mercier stood in front of a packed house in the TRU Grand Hall Saturday night and gave $250,000 to student endowments, he promised it would be the first of many.
“It’s not a closed door, it’s a relationship,” he told The Daily News prior to the 21st Thompson Rivers University Foundation Gala.
About 500 people attended the annual gathering on campus Saturday night.
“I feel it’s a nice commitment to them and substantial enough to be meaningful. I’m very happy to be involved with them.”
Mercier’s relationship with TRU goes back to the days when the institution was known as Cariboo College. As a local contractor since 1980, Quebec-born Mercier has done extensive construction work for the institution over the past 22 years.
He and his crew are responsible for several projects that now form the university’s backdrop. Among the more “glamorous,” as Mercier likes to describe them, is the Campus Activity Centre where the annual gala is held.
His Acres Enterprises has also been responsible for a couple of renovations to the university’s library, and he was subcontracted to work on the Brown Family House of Learning.
“And we’ve done several other smaller projects, too,” said Mercier. “That’s how our relationship is.”
Mercier’s connection to the university is personal as well as professional. His daughter, Aimee, graduated last year with a science degree. She’s currently studying to be a veterinarian in Saskatoon.
His son, Justin, also took courses at TRU. And his partner, Kam, received a degree in business administration.
Mercier followed his father’s footsteps into industry, but his father also insisted that all six of his children obtain a post-secondary education. As a result, Mercier obtained a bachelor of business administration from L’Universites de Rimouski.
“My parents instilled me with a belief in education,” he said. “Wee have been very involved with TRU’s growth over these last 22 years and can see that universities are important to individuals, families and communities.”
After graduating, Mercier decided to see the country, which brought him to Kamloops in 1973. He’s been here ever since, working with Dominion Construction as an engineering technologist before setting off on his own in 1980.
The $250,000 donation is among the biggest in the foundation gala’s history, and Mercier is firm in his belief on how the money should be used.
“I want to have some of it go toward the students, to go into an endowment fund of some sorts,” he said. “And I know that they have needs for the new law building, which is beautiful.”
The Daily News announced at the gala that it will donate $300,000 in in-kind advertising to support foundation marketing. Saturday’s event also provided another chance for the foundation to recognize BMO for its recent contribution of $600,000 for BMO Student Street.
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