Heather Reisman

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Heather Reisman
Heather Reisman.jpg
Heather Reisman in 2007
Born (1948-08-28) August 28, 1948 (age 68)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Residence Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater McGill University
Occupation CEO of Indigo Books and Music
Chairwoman of Kobo
Editor-at-Large of Huffington Post Canada
Religion Judaism
Spouse(s) Gerald Schwartz (1982–)
Children 4

Heather Reisman (born August 28, 1948) is a Canadian businesswoman. Reisman is the founder and chief executive of the Canadian retail chain Indigo Books and Music. Previously, she was president of Cott Corporation, a supplier of private label carbonated soft drinks.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Reisman was born in 1948 in Montreal, Quebec and educated as a social worker at McGill University. Her father, Mark, was a real estate broker; her mother, Rose, owned a clothing store; and her brother, Howard, operated a computer company.[3] She is the niece of Simon Reisman, who headed the Canadian delegation that negotiated the 1988 Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement.


After Reisman’s first marriage ended in divorce, she switched careers and followed her family into business first joining her brother Howard’s company in an executive capacity. In 1979, she moved to Toronto and co-founded Paradigm Consulting, a strategic change consultancy, serving as its managing director for seventeen years. In 1992, she served as president of Cott Beverages, a private label bottler of soft drinks, and also experimented with marketing fresh, ready-to-cook foods through a firm called Now! Foods.[3]

In 1995, she was invited to become a "frontline investor" for Borders, the American book retailer, which was planning to enter the Canadian market. When Borders was unable to obtain the necessary federal regulatory approval in Canada, Reisman entered big box book retailing on her own founding a company called Indigo Books and Music. She was backed by the Onex Corporation, one of Canada’s largest and most successful conglomerates, and also controlled by her husband Gerry Schwartz, whom she had married some thirteen years earlier in 1982. In 2001, Indigo Books and Music merged with its main rival Chapters to form the largest book retailer in Canada obtaining a near monopoly position.[3]

Reisman has also served as a governor of the Toronto Stock Exchange and of McGill University.[3]

Advocacy and politics[edit]

In August 2006, as a result of differing reactions by the two main Canadian political parties to the 2006 Lebanon War, Reisman announced that she and husband Gerry Schwartz would be joining Robert Lantos in withdrawing their longtime support for the Liberal Party of Canada and supporting the Conservative Party of Canada under Stephen Harper.[4]

Mein Kampf[edit]

She drew praise and criticism in October 2001, after announcing that Indigo would not sell Hitler's Mein Kampf in its bookstores.[5][6]

Death penalty for Sakineh Ashtiani[edit]

On July 5, 2010, Reisman started to create an online petition to save an Iranian woman, Sakineh Ashtiani, from the death penalty by stoning. Her initiative found support around the world.[7]

Bilderberg Group[edit]

Reisman is a member of the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group[8] and participated in all its conferences since 2002.

Charitable giving[edit]

Together with her family, Reisman endowed the Heather Reisman Chair in Perinatal Research at the University of Toronto. She and her husband established the Gerald Schwartz/Heather Reisman Centre for Jewish Learning at Holy Blossom Temple. They have also given major gifts to Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, the Legacy Fund of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, and to Harvard University.[3]

In 2005, she and her husband, Gerald Schwartz founded the HESEG Foundation, which provides scholarships to lone soldiers.

In 2006, she founded the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation whose mission is to enrich the libraries in under-resourced public schools.[citation needed]


In 2009, the Financial Times listed Reisman as one of the top 50 businesswomen in the world.[9] In 2010, she received an honorary doctorate from Mount Allison University. In 2013, she received an honorary doctorate from St. Francis Xavier University.

Personal life[edit]

In 1982, Reisman married Gerald Schwartz, the founder and CEO of Onex Corporation. Reisman has two children from her first marriage and two step-children from her marriage to Gerry Schwartz. The couple are members of the Reform synagogue, Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Profile at indigo.ca
  2. ^ Profile at Facebook
  3. ^ a b c d e f Michael Brown. "HEATHER REISMAN". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Clark, Campbell (4 August 2006). "Liberal power couple back Harper on Mideast". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  5. ^ Adams, James. Globe and Mail. "Reisman bans Mein Kampf from Chapters and Indigo."
  6. ^ "Remember Mein Kampf". Vancouver: The Jewish Independent. 21 December 2001. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  7. ^ Globe and Mail, July 8, 2010: "Heather Reisman spearheads 11th-hour bid to save Iranian woman from stoning"
  8. ^ Steering Committee. Bilderberg Meetings. Retrieved on 2013-09-19.
  9. ^ Women at the Top: Women's advancement, fairness and equality in the business arena - FT.com. Womenatthetop.ft.com. Retrieved on 2013-09-19.