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Paul Haggis and TIFF friends raise $1.5 million for Haiti

Elle Canada
Culture

Paul Haggis and TIFF friends raise $1.5 million for Haiti

Father Rick

Photo courtesy of Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ). Last night’s APJ gala was co-chaired by Natasha Koifman and Sylvia Mantella and co-hosted by Paul Haggis, Madeleine Stowe, Jason Reitman, George Stroumboulopoulos, and Pascal Raffy, President of Bovet 1822.

When you spot a priest at a TIFF party, you just assume he’s an actor playing a priest. Or, at least that was my first thought when I noticed Father Rick Frechette standing beside Madeleine Stowe. The unlikely duo were chatting with one another at the Artists for Peace and Justice fifth-annual gala held at Casa Loma. As I later learned, Father Rick is a priest, doctor and respected community figure who has been living in Haiti for more than 25 years. He’s the founder of the St Luke Foundation, and he’s dedicated his life to providing education, food, water and medical care to people in the poorest regions of that country. At last night’s gala—which raised more than 1.5 million—Father Rick was the keynote speaker. He was one of the few people who managed to hold everyone’s rapt attention. (No shushing from APJ founder Paul Haggis was required. The only other exception was indie rock band, The National.) Father Rick opened his remarks, with what he admitted was a somewhat ironic comment coming from a priest: “Bad is more powerful than good.” What did he mean by that? Read on... I wrote that last night, with the idea I’d transcribe my tape, this morning. No such luck. The file has disappeared… Don’t you love apps! I’ll do my best to paraphrase his message. The reason why bad is more powerful is that its influence is so forceful and damaging. We remember an unkind or cruel deed six times longer than we recall a kind gesture. To counteract that force, requires continuous acts of selflessness and generosity. Last night, philanthropists, such as Kate Daniels and Suzanne Rogers as well as actress Madeleine Stowe, came forward with significant contributions to the group. In his closing comments, Father Rick said: “It’s not charity; it’s solidarity. Helping children in Haiti is a matter of justice that leads to peace.” To make a donation go to.  www.apjnow.org

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Paul Haggis and TIFF friends raise $1.5 million for Haiti