This year’s event included a beautiful sit-down dinner at the spectacular 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.
Mr. Raffy addressed the audience to give his own endorsement of the cause. Not only has his House Bovet 1822 agreed to support the fundraising efforts of APJ for at least five years -a commitment of 5 million dollars- but Mr. Raffy traveled to Haiti himself to visit the facilities and stated clearly that he will ensure that the pledges raised will go directly to help these children receive an education.
After a moving preview of the movie by Paul Haggis and APJ CEO David Belle based on Father Rick’s work in Haiti, Father Rick addressed the guests about his experiences in the country over the past thirty years. When he first went to Haiti in the 1980’s, he realized that what Haitians needed most was medical support.
Following Father Rick’s remarks, guests were treated to a surprise performance by the Grammy-Award-nominated American indie rock band, The National. The Arkells also performed, receiving a standing ovation after their dynamic performance of their hit song “Whistleblower”, and Slaight Music’s Stacey Kay entertained the crowd with her unique urban pop style.
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 Offshall, Caitlin Cronenberg, Shawn Hook and Stacey McKenzie.
“Toronto has always been such a big supporter of APJ, and year over year the fundraiser we host during the film festival is extremely impactful,” says Haggis. “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.”
Mr. Raffy was able to see these desperate needs first hand during his trip to Haiti this April with some of the APJ team and Madeleine Stowe. He was introduced to Father Rick upon his arrival to Cite Soleil, the poorest region of Haiti, and was able to witness not only the need but the progress that has been made. Mr. Raffy was also able to tour the Academy for Peace and Justice, which serves the poorest and most deserving youth in Port-au-Prince. Immediately following the 2010 earthquake, APJ funded the purchase of land and construction to build this school, Haiti’s largest and first free high school, which has provided over 2000 underprivileged children the opportunity to continue their education beyond the sixth grade. Growing by 400 students each year, The Academy will reach 2800 students at full capacity in 2016.