Artists for Peace and Justice Raises $500,000 for Education in Haiti
A star-studded, intimate evening fundraiser held on Saturday, September 11th, featuring physical and virtual experiences raised an impressive $500,000 to help Haitian youth receive the education they deserve.
Co-chairs Natasha Koifman and Suzanne Boyd hosted the 13th annual Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) Festival Gala by bringing together local and international changemakers, featuring messages from Ben Stiller and Susan Sarandon and performances by legendary musicians Rick Springfield and Jim Cuddy, with the highlight of the evening being the APJ Lifetime Achievement Award being presented to Geddy Lee of Rush.
Emcees George Stroumboulopoulos and Natasha Gargiulo opened the evening by acknowledging the recent natural devastation that occurred in Haiti and the 20 years since 9/11 by leading a moment of silence.
APJ’s mission is to encourage peace and social justice while working to alleviate poverty around the world. The organization’s immediate efforts serve the poorest communities in Haiti with programs in education and training in creative industries, while expanding the reach globally by partnering with effective local organizations to give young women access to quality education.
In her remarks, Festival Gala Co-host and Canada Board Chair of the U.S. Board of Directors Natasha Koifman spoke about her passionate commitment to the cause and appreciation for the long-time supporters in attendance. Generous sponsors for this year’s event included No. 7 Dale, Slaight Music, Shaftesbury, Ritz-Carlton, NKPR and Flow Water.
“Education should not be a privilege but a human right for every child, and yet Haiti only offers paid secondary education. Many Haitian families live off a dollar per day making this an impossibility,” said Koifman. “I am so grateful for the many people who have been a part of APJ since Day One and everyone here tonight. Together, we have helped 26,000 students receive an education since 2012. It’s incredibly important we support a community that in reality is in our own backyard. We have to take action.”
Artist Rick Springfield honoured friends Yannick and Shantelle Bisson with the Canadian Changemaker Award. Special performances from Witch Prophet and Sun Sun, Kayla Diamond of Slaight Music and a late-night performance from Haitian artist Paul Beaubrun, who flew in from Haiti especially for this event, highlighted the evening.
Intimate video messages came from Ben Stiller and Susan Sarandon, among others, who thanked guests for ensuring Artists for Peace and Justice can carry on and provide hope for many future generations of students.