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Not Charity, Solidarity

Thank you Toronto! An impressive 1.5 million dollars was raised at the sixth annual Bovet 1822 and Artists for Peace and Justice 2014 Festival Gala held at Casa Loma. Inspirational community organizer, priest, and doctor, Father Rick Frechette said it best: “It’s not charity; it’s solidarity. Helping children in Haiti is a matter of justice that leads to peace.” Co-Chaired by Natasha Koifman and Sylvia Mantella, the event was co-hosted by an influential team of artists, actors, and philanthropists, including Madeleine Stowe, Jason Reitman, George Stroumboulopoulos, and Mr. Pascal Raffy, Owner of Bovet 1822.

Click here for photos from the entire night’s beautiful celebration under the stars.

Slaight Music’s Stacey Kay entertained the crowd with her unique, urban pop style and Universal Music Canada’s Arkells thundering applause after a dynamic performance of their hit song “Whistleblower” to open up for surprise a musical performance by Grammy nominated indie rock band, The National, who headlined the night’s festivities.

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The evening’s title sponsor was APJ strategic partner Bovet 1822, the extraordinary timepiece company that ensures APJ is able to give 100 percent of every dollar raised directly to Haiti. This year’s event included a beautiful sit-down dinner at the glorious Casa Loma, operated by Liberty Entertainment Group. Seated under the September night sky, the castle was the perfect backdrop to an evening that saw Madeleine Stowe and Toronto philanthropist Kate Daniels each pledging $50,000 to APJ for the next five years.

The theatrical live auction hosted by the Scott Brothers, Drew and Jonathan, saw extraordinary items that went for impressive amounts. $50,000 was raised after Chris Bratty from Remington Group and Suzanne Rogers came together on a bid for a private meet-and-greet with Diane Von Furstenberg. A chance to attend a sound check with Sir Paul McCartney went for $42,000 after a personal anecdote from Universal Music’s Randy Lennox about meeting the famed singer-songwriter. 

“Tonight’s event propelled us forward in a remarkable way, having Father Rick speak added a whole other element to the evening that inspired people to give in ways they never have before. His work was one of the reasons why we started APJ in the first place – he was incredibly inspiring, illustrating to us why so much more is still needed on the ground.”

After a moving preview of a teaser for a new feature length documentary about Father Rick by David Belle, the audience gave a standing ovation as Rick spoke about his experiences living and working on the ground in Haiti for the past thirty years.

“The courage, strength, and capacity of the Haitian people is limitless,” says Father Rick Frechette. “Every one of those programs is led by Haitian professionals. Haitian leadership is the foundation of what we do, it is the bedrock of success, its is the way that things work here. That’s not because we like to talk about it, or think it’s a nice thing to say, its because it is what works.”

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Some of the evening’s most recognizable faces lined the red carpet for the event, including The Canadian Tenors, Ben and Jessica Mulroney, Cheryl Hickey, Arlene Dickinson, Kardinal Offishall, Caitlin Cronenberg, Shawn Hook and Stacey McKenzie.

“Toronto has always been such a big supporter of APJ, and year after year the fundraiser we host during the film festival is extremely impactful, every penny we raise goes directly to the ground in Haiti, helping children get their education, and gain the life skills they need to thrive in their own communities. That’s where the money counts, and that’s why it matters so much to us.”

Immediately following the 2010 earthquake, APJ funded the purchase of land and construction to build Haiti’s largest and first free high school, the Academy for Peace and Justice, which serves the poorest and most deserving youth in Port-au-Prince. APJ has provided over 2,200 underprivileged children the opportunity to continue their education beyond the sixth grade. Growing by 400 students each year, The Academy will reach 2,800 students at full capacity in 2016.

“Tonight couldn’t have happened without the support of our dedicated lead sponsors, Bovet 1822, Audi, The Mantella Corporation, and more specifically Sylvia Mantella as our co-chair with Natasha Koifman,” says CEO, David Belle. “We work with such a devoted team, and nights like this demonstrate the kind of amazing work we can do when we all come together. With Haiti at the center, we’re unstoppable in our mission to bring a better life to our friends, and now family, in that country.”

On behalf of all our students in Haiti and the entire Artists for Peace and Justice team, from the bottom of our hearts,  thank you!

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