Heather Reisman

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Heather Reisman
Heather Reisman.jpg
Heather Reisman in 2007
Born (1948-08-28) August 28, 1948 (age 70)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Residence Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater McGill University
Occupation CEO of Indigo Books and Music
Co-founder and past Chair of Kobo
Spouse(s) Gerald Schwartz
Children 4

Heather Reisman (born August 28, 1948) is a Canadian businesswoman and philanthropist. Reisman is the founder and chief executive of the Canadian retail chain Indigo Books and Music. She is the co-founder and past Chair of Kobo.

Early life[edit]

Reisman was born in 1948 in Montreal, Quebec and educated at McGill University. Her father, Mark, was a real estate developer; her mother, Rose, owned a clothing store; and her brother, Howard, founded computer company Time Systems.[1] 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 joined her brother Howard’s company. In 1979, she co-founded Paradigm Consulting, a strategic change consultancy, serving as its managing director for seventeen years.

In 1995, she was invited to become a "front-line investor" for Borders Group, 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 raised $25m from a group of investors based on the original concept document for Indigo. In 2001, Indigo Books and Music acquired its main rival, Chapters, to form the largest book retailer in Canada, obtaining a clear leadership position in the book retailing industry. Since 1998, Reisman has also chosen more than 262 "Heather's Picks" for Indigo, which are books specifically recommended by her and come with a money-back guarantee.[2]

In 2009, she co-founded Kobo to participate in the exploding e-reading market. In 2012 Kobo was sold to Rakuten, and it remains a leader in the field.

Reisman has also served as a governor of the Toronto Stock Exchange and of McGill University.[1] She has been a board member of several companies, including Williams Sonoma and J. Crew. She is currently a Director of Onex Corporation and Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Advocacy and politics[edit]

In August 2006, due to differing reactions by the two main Canadian political parties to the 2006 Lebanon War, Reisman withdrew her longtime support for the Liberal Party of Canada and chose to support the Conservative Party of Canada under Stephen Harper.[3]

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.[4][5]

Death penalty for Sakineh Ashtiani[edit]

On July 5, 2010, Reisman launched an online petition to save an Iranian woman, Sakineh Ashtiani, from the death penalty by stoning. Her initiative found support around the world. Sakineh was not subjected to the stoning.[6]

Bilderberg Group[edit]

Reisman is a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group,[7] and has participated in all its conferences since 2002.

Charitable giving[edit]

In 2006, she founded the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, whose mission is to enrich the libraries in under-resourced public schools[citation needed]. Since its inception the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation has provided over $20 million to high needs schools in Canada.

In 1996 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 Harvard University.[1]

In 2005, she and her husband Gerald Schwartz founded the HESEG Foundation, which provides scholarships to "lone soldiers", individuals who have served their time in the military and who have no family support to enable their education.


In May 2015, Reisman was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.

Reisman is the recipient of honorary doctorates from Ryerson University (2006), Wilfrid Laurier University (2009), Mount Allison University (2010), St. Francis Xavier University (2013), and University of Manitoba (2016). She was named Retail Council of Canada's Distinguished Retailer of the Year (2011), and received the International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award (2003) from the University of Manitoba, Asper Business School.

She is a Member of the Order of Canada.

In 2009, the Financial Times listed Reisman as one of the top 50 businesswomen in the world.[8]

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 Schwartz. The couple are members of the Reform synagogue, Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Michael Brown. "HEATHER REISMAN". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Porter, Ryan (19 March 2016). "How Indigo's Heather Reisman chooses her Heather's Picks". The Star. Retrieved April 15, 2017. 
  3. ^ Clark, Campbell (4 August 2006). "Liberal power couple back Harper on Mideast". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  4. ^ Adams, James. The Globe and Mail. "Reisman bans Mein Kampf from Chapters and Indigo."
  5. ^ "Remember Mein Kampf". Vancouver: The Jewish Independent. 21 December 2001. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  6. ^ The Globe and Mail, July 8, 2010: "Heather Reisman spearheads 11th-hour bid to save Iranian woman from stoning"
  7. ^ Steering Committee Archived 2014-03-11 at the Wayback Machine. Bilderberg Meetings. Retrieved on 2013-09-19
  8. ^ Women at the Top: Women's advancement, fairness and equality in the business arena - FT.com Archived 2010-11-26 at the Wayback Machine.. Womenatthetop.ft.com. Retrieved on 2013-09-19