Our 13th annual Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) Festival Gala took place Saturday, September 11, raising critical awareness and needed funds to support education in Haiti. In an intimate setting at the home of Natasha Koifman, local and global communities gathered during TIFF to support this imperative initiative. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and guests, $500,000 was raised in one evening, with 100% of funds raised going directly to The Academy for Peace & Justice in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, to provide public access to secondary school education.
Natasha Koifman, President of the Board for Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) Canada, and on the Board of Directors for the organization’s American counterpart, co-chaired the gala with APJ Canadian board director, Suzanne Boyd.
Actress Natasha Gargiulo and APJ Canadian board treasurer, George Stroumboulopoulos, emceed the event, beginning with a moment of silence dedicated to both the recent devastation in Haiti and twenty year anniversary of 9/11.
In recognition of APJ’s long-standing commitment to altruism, Geddy Lee, of the iconic Canadian rock band Rush, received this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his commitment to philanthropy. “For philanthropy to have any impact requires a tremendous amount of collective action—momentum,” said Lee.
Rick Springfeild virtually surprised his friends Shantelle and Yannick Bisson with the Canadian Changemaker award for their relentless charitable efforts over the years, supporting APJ as well as Childhood Cancer Canada, Sheila’s Place, Boost for Kids and more.
Natasha Koifman, President of the Board for Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) Canada
“Education should not be a privilege, but a human right for every child,” said Koifman. “And yet Haiti only offers paid secondary education. Many Haitian families live on one dollar a day making it an impossibility. I am so grateful for the many people who have been part of APJ since day one and everyone here tonight. Together, we have helped 26,000 students get 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.”
Both physical and virtual experiences showcased the first-hand impact of APJ on the lives of youth in Haiti, including video wholehearted messages from Jaebets Gilles, Execute Director, St. Luke for Haiti Foundation Educational Program, and Jimmy-Jean Louis, actor and Ambassador at Large to Haiti, who reminded guests of the significance of their support—education and training that empowers the next generation of leaders with resilience and hope for better living conditions.
Long-time APJ supporters, Ben Stiller and Susan Sarandon, virtually thanked guests and reminded them of the impact these fundraisers have on education and health programs in Haiti. Legendary musicians Jim Cuddy and Rick Springfeild also contributed brilliant virtual performances.
Special live performances included Witch Prophet and DJ Sun Sun, Kayla Diamond of Slaight Music, and Haitian artist Paul Beaubrun who flew in directly from Haiti and made it in just in time to close the evening.
This year’s live auction was led by former Canadian Changemaker Award recipient David Daniels and Canadian TV personality Natasha Gargiulo. Highlights included a bidding war between Lee Piccoli and Yannick Bisson for Anthony Ricciardi’s “Day Dream”, an original painting that went to Lee for a generous APJ donation of $20,000. Ginger Barkey and Rose Mantella bid aggressively for Russell Young’s “Marilyn Crying”, a large format, diamond-dusted screen print donated by Taglialatella Gallery, before Danny Soberano from INK Entertainment Group offered a second piece for auction, allowing both bidders to take home this prize artwork, raising a combined $120,000 donation. Michael Bratty and Gillian Oxley competitively bid for a walk-on role on Murdoch Mysteries. Lead actor Yannick Bisson and Shaftesbury, the production company who donated the auction item, generously offered both bidders a walk-on role opportunity, raising $30,000.
The night was a huge success, having had support provided by many local community members and sponsors. A huge thank you to the Ritz Carlton, who set up their Epoch bar featuring specialty cocktails, Flow for keeping our guests hydrated, and Shaftesbury, Slaight Music, and No.7 Dale. Big shout-out to Motorino Restaurants, who kept guests warm with their coffee cart.
Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in this year’s gala. To learn more about Artists for Peace and Justice, visit https://www.apjnow.org/.
With TIFF approaching soon, we’ve rounded up the best Toronto hotspots to visit in between movies. Whether you enjoy a good patio cocktail or want to be on the lookout for A-list TIFF stars in town, we’ve got a little something for everyone to do to make your TIFF experience that much better.
Located in King West Village, Thompson Hotel has one of the best and most popular views of the city. It’s known as a celebrity hot spot during TIFF, but also year round, featuring celebrities such as The Weeknd and Selena Gomez who visited the Diner, and popular guests during the TIFF season such as Bradley Cooper, Kate Hudson and James Franco. It has also hosted notable premieres and celebrity parties in the past, making it a great place to be during TIFF season to spot your fave celebrity. This year, The Thompson Hotel is even creating film-themed cocktails based on this year’s TIFF lineup- available from September 6th- 16th.
Aside from celeb sightings and film inspired cocktails, The Thompson also offers panoramic views of Toronto from its Rooftop Lounge and seasonal pool. Be sure to dine in comfort in the Thompson Diner open really early and really late, perfect for pre or post movie.
Right in the heart of Downtown Toronto at the Eaton Centre, JOEY has become a favourite restaurant of ours! The decor and atmosphere help to bring the ultimate casual dining experience that is vibrant and relaxed. Wednesday’s are our favourite days with half-priced bottles of wine and globally inspired dishes to pair! JOEY will definitely be a hot spot during TIFF that is right in the middle of all the Toronto action! Be sure to make your Wednesday night reso now.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the APJ Film Festival Gala taking place at the beautiful and historic Windsor Arms Hotel on September 8th from 6pm to 10pm. Co-hosted by Ben Stiller and Susan Sarandon, the fundraising event is a chance for leading artists, brands and philanthropists to celebrate and empower local communities in Haiti. Although it is sold out this year, the event will be filled with glitz, glamour and TIFF celebrities of course!
InStyle Hollywood Foreign Press Party This star-studded party will be happening on September 8th in Yorkville. An annual event, it is always a big celebrity hot spot, featuring some of our favourite stars such as Margot Robbie, Jake Gyllenhaal, Elisabeth Moss, George Clooney…the list goes on!
On Sunday September 7, Artists for Peace and Justice hosted their annual benefit sponsored by Bovet 1822 at the historic Casa Loma. The organization, founded by Oscar-winning director/producer Paul Haggis, supports communities in Haiti through programs in education, healthcare and dignity through the arts.
The night was co-hosted by Pascal Raffy of Bovet 1822, Madeleine Stowe, and George Stromboulopoulos and co-chaired by dedicated humanitarian, Sylvia Mantella, and APJ board member (and NKPR President!) Natasha Koifman.
In one night, we were able to raise 1.5 million dollars! This incredible generosity will dramatically change the lives of Haitian children with 100% of the money going directly towards empowering local communities and fostering economic growth through education.
From red-carpet moments to inspiring speeches…see some of the highlights from the Artists for Peace and Justice Film Festival Gala 2014.
We all had to know: “If you had $14,000 and 90 minutes, where would you shop and what would you buy?” Since Beyonce went international, it gave us free reign to fantasize about our ultimate shopping destination.
Ignoring the 90-minute time limit altogether, Cat said she’d fly to Spain to eat at the famous El Bulli restaurant.
Heather also had the travel bug, and said she’d scoot off to Les Puces market in Paris to discover new treasures.
It’s no surprise New York was also a preferred shopping spree destination.
Laycee said she’d hit up Saks for shoes and summer dresses, and the Sephora flagship to buy a few dozen cosmetic bags worth of Stila makeup.
Since Lauren is jet-setting to NYC this weekend, she’s planning to buy out the shoe department at Bergdorf Goodman with her imaginary $14,000. “Starting with these Front-Zip Riding Boots by Givenchy. I work in long lead times, so I’m already thinking about Fall!”
Ever the multi-tasker, Rebecca would divide her time up at Barney’s:
“Thirty minutes in shoes (stocking up on Prada Fall/Winter 2012 Velvet and Leopard Print delights, Rag & Bone Tough Girl Boots and electric McQueen pumps), 45 minutes in clothing (Alexander Wang, 3.1 Philip Lim, basics from The Row and maybe a Leger or two) and 15 minutes in purses (A Chanel 2.55 bag? If you insist…)”
A brand new bag was also at the top of Kaley’s list:
“Even with the $14,000, I’m gonna need a $500 advance on my next pay cheque to cover the cost of a Proenza Schouler PS1 in Midnight Croc. LOVE.”
And Elli’s too: “Paris. Hermes. A Birkin.”
Reflecting her Company’s commitment to give back, Natasha would turn that $14,000 into $28,000 (via an online matching dollar-for-dollar campaign, of course!) and donate half to Artists for Peace & Justice and half to Camp Oochigeas. “That way I’d get to give give back and raise awareness!”
So we want to know: where would you power shop and how would you spend $14,000? Leave a comment or tell us in a tweet!