The legal partnership of Yude Henteleff, Harold Buchwald and Israel Asper has arguably contributed more to the betterment of society than any other trio of lawyers in our city’s history. I knew all three, although I had many more interactions with Harold and Yude than I had with Izzy.
I can’t remember how long I have known Yude, the only one of the trio who is still with us, but we undoubtedly go back 30 or 40 years. It was a pleasure to get together with him recently and find him still in good form as he nears his 95th birthday.
Yude has been much honoured for his contributions to not just our own community but also to people around the world. His range of interests and impacts have encompassed education, heritage, healthcare, human rights and arts and entertainment. Among his more notable honours have been Human Rights Commitment Award of Manitoba in 2008, an honorary Doctor of Law from the University of Manitoba in 2006, the Manitoba Bar Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2002, the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999 and induction into the Order of Canada in 1997.
The much-accomplished retired Yude stems from humble beginnings. He grew up on the family farm in St. Norbert.
“My father and grandfather (Jewish immigrants from Russia) began farming in 1921 in St. Anne,” he says. “My grandmother though wanted to be closer to the relatives in Winnipeg. So we became market gardeners in St. Norbert.”
Yude recalls attending a one-room country school with a pump for water and an outhouse in the back.
He met his future law partners at university and the threesome quickly became fast and lifelong friends. In 1965, Yude and Harold formed the law firm Buchwald Henteleff. In 1970, they joined forces with Izzy to form Buchwald Asper Henteleff.
“The three of us were bound together by a love of the law and a commitment to social justice,” Yude recalls. “We also shared a commitment to the City of Winnipeg and the arts, and a passion for the Jewish people and for education. We felt strongly that, as lawyers, we were in an ideal position to serve as advocates in ways that would enrich our community.”
Due to one of his own children having a learning disability, Yude was instrumental in the formation of the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba. He became a leading voice nationally advocating for children afflicted with learning disabilities.
He was also a long-time member of the Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties. His interest in human rights, he recounts, came about through a government appointment to the Canadian human Rights Commission. In addition to monthly trips to Ottawa, his human rights advocacy brought him to Thailand, Kyrgystan, Israel, South Africa and several countries in south and central America – in particular a stay of several months in Honduras.
He also played an integral role in the creation of his friend Israel Asper’s visionary Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Yude chaired the Content Advisory Committee. He and the committee members traveled across Canada – from Labrador to Iqaluit to Victoria, listening to stories Canadians felt it was important to include in the new museum.
“It was a daunting challenge,” he recalls. “It was a unique opportunity to meet a wide cross section of Canadians. We were greeted by huge turnouts everywhere and some of what we learned about the state of human rights in Canada was shocking. Much of what we heard was taken into consideration in determining the areas the museum has chosen to focus on.”
The project that Yude has been primarily focusing on over the past few years has been the one that hits closest to home for him. That would be the transformation of the Henteleff Family farm into Henteleff Park and Interpretive Centre highlighting Winnipeg’s early market gardening industry as well as the Metis roots of the area.
“For years, the market gardeners in our area supplied all the fruits and vegetables for the North End Farmers’ Market at Main near Selkirk,” he notes.
“The park (in south St. Vital) has been a huge success,” Yude says. “There had been some commercial interest in developing the property, but we were able to get the land rezoned as a public park. Today, we get visitors from all parts of Winnipeg as well as numerous school groups.
“It is a beautiful area.”
Still relatively hale and hearty, Yude and his partner, Joy, have recently returned from wintering on Vancouver island. “Traveling our country, I am constantly reminded what a wonderful country Canada is and how wonderful are our people,” he observes. “I was delighted to be able to go into a coffee shop in Duncan (on the island) and buy saskatoon berry muffins. I bought half a dozen muffins and a lot of saskatoon berries.”
Although COVID-19 restricted Yude’s social interactions for a while, an experience most people can no doubt share (and he is still careful, considering his age, about crowds), he remains thankful he is still in relatively good shape physically and mentally and still tries to go for daily walks.
“It is important to stay active and involved with people,” he says.