Sponsor Spotlight: Manulife Financial
Originally printed in Sport Quarterly, June 2006

Manulife Financial is a Canadian-based international financial services company with offices in 19 countries and territories, and approximately 800 employees in Nova Scotia. For the second year, Manulife is the title sponsor of the Manulife Dragon Boat Festival and races, to be held Saturday, July 8 on Lake Banook in Dartmouth.

Judy Blasutti, manager of community affairs for Manulife Financial’s Canadian division, says the Dragon Boat Festival fits with the company’s philosophy in community involvement in a couple of different ways.

“We do not typically get involved with sponsorship of sports per se,” she says. “Our focus for charitable giving is healthy living and active living, so we thought it was a good fit just in terms of getting kids away from their computer games and out of the house and leading a more active lifestyle.

“One of the other really important aspects of our charitable giving program is employee engagement,” Blasutti continues. “So we were specifically looking for an event in Halifax that had some opportunities for our employees to participate. As something to use for a team-building exercise, this was a perfect fit.”

Blasutti, who says she was a paddler herself years ago in Toronto’s very first Dragon Boat festival, adds that Manulife will have three boats entered in the races at Lake Banook. She proudly points out that last year one of the Manulife teams finished first in their division.

“It’s a fun activity. If you have any paddling skills at all you can do it, and it’s always nice just to be down on the water. We have no problem finding employees who want to participate.”

Blasutti says that while Manulife doesn’t do a lot of sponsorship activity, they do have a signature event in a number of major centres in Canada. She says the relationship with Sport Nova Scotia is “absolutely fantastic”. “Sport Nova Scotia not only meets the agreement we have with them, but they’re always coming up with extra ways to help us out and give a little more exposure,” she says. “And just in terms of communication, keeping us in the loop on things, they have been great. We really enjoy the partnership.”

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