HOF106: Art DeFehr

Mr. Arthur DeFehr was the CEO of Palliser Furniture (Winnipeg) and a lifelong humanitarian activist. His participation in the Civil Rights Movement and raising pacifist concerns regarding the Vietnam War was a prelude to a deep involvement in social justice and global affairs.

He worked with Mennonite Central Committee and CIDA in Bangladesh before becoming an instrumental figure in developing the “Landbridge” AID program along the Thai/Cambodia borders in 1979-1981. He spent the early 1980s as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Somalia.  

A founder of Canadian Foodgrains Bank and International Development Enterprise, he has provided food assistance and market-related solutions to development work around the world.

He also played a key role in establishing Manitoba’s Immigrant Provincial Nominee Program in the 1990s. He was a board member of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in 2008. In 2013, he was in Myanmar/Burma with a team working on a conflict resolution conference.

Mr. DeFehr was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2004, Order of Manitoba in 2011, and Manitoba Business Hall of Fame in 2015. In 2016, he was honoured by Canadian Mennonite University for a life of service, leadership, and reconciliation; and in 2017, he was honoured with the Gandhi Peace Award from the Mahatma Gandhi Centre of Canada. Today, he continues to be involved in national and international immigration policies.