Gord Downie’s extraordinary acts of kindness in life have formed a large part of the cultural icon’s remarkable legacy, and next month this part of his life’s work will be honoured posthumously with the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Award.
The former Tragically Hip frontman, who died in 2017, will be recognized for his dedication to promoting reconciliation, encouraging Canadians to learn more about Indigenous history, and his commitments to the environment.
He dedicated the last few years of his life educating the country on its past, moving toward reconciliation, and also spent many years working with the Lake Ontario Waterkeepers among other organizations. Alongside his brothers in The Hip, he and the band supported their hometown community of Kingston during their career, giving back to local organizations with proceeds from their Kingston shows.
“Gord Downie was an inspiration to all Canadians, and his life's work represented the embodiment of all that the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award celebrates. His legacy continues to resonate through his music and lyrics and, most importantly, through the growth and enterprise of The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund,” said Gary Slaight, CEO and President of Slaight Communications/Slaight Family Foundation at the announcement of the upcoming award.
The Wenjack and Downie families officially founded The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund in 2016 to support reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. DWF operated as a fund through the Toronto Foundation and Tides Canada until receiving charitable status in March 2018.
Since it’s inception DWF has developed programs and initiatives based on their three guiding pillars of awareness, education and action which contribute to a national movement where all Canadians are participating in reconciliation. They achieve this through their Legacy Schools program, Legacy Spaces program and Secret Path Week.
The DWF Legacy Schools Program launched in September 2018 with a tremendous response from schools, educators, and students across Canada. The DWF Legacy Schools has 477 Legacy Schools registered, 880 Legacy School toolkits distributed to every Provinces & Territory, and 1,977 participating classrooms reaching over 59,000 students nation-wide!
He also spent time on the board for Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, an organization that is working to restore our waterways to ensure they are Swimmable, Drinkable and Fishable today and for future generations. Having an early connection to water, Downey was a passionate ambassador for Waterkeeper, working closely with LOW to stop Lafarge from burning tires and waste materials near the town of Bath, and created the Heart Of A Lake events to bring environmental awareness to local communities through art.
Last year, Arcade Fire received the humanitarian award, while other past recipients include Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida, Rush, Bryan Adams and Bruce Cockburn.
The award will be presented to members of the Downie family at the CMW Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards gala dinner, on May 9 at Rebel Entertainment Complex in Toronto. For more information and tickets for the 2019 CMBIAs, go to www.cmw.net.
ABOUT THE ALLAN SLAIGHT HUMANITARIAN SPIRIT AWARD
Each year, Slaight Communications and Canadian Music Week awards an outstanding Canadian artist, in recognition of their contribution to social activism and support of humanitarian causes. In its 9th year, Arcade Fire will join the celebrated list of recipients which include: RUSH, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk & Raine Maida, Simple Plan, Bruce Cockburn, Bryan Adams and Nelly Furtado.
ABOUT ALLAN SLAIGHT
A pioneer of rock and roll, Allan parlayed his entrepreneurial flair with his knowledge of radio to create Canada's largest privately-owned multi-media company, Standard Broadcasting Corporation Limited. An inductee into the Broadcast Hall of Fame (1997), the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Commerce from Ryerson Polytechnic University (2000), appointed a Member of the Order of Canada (2001), the recipient of the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award (2005) for his contribution to the growth and development of the Canadian music industry, Allan has also maintained a life long interest in conjuring.