SEPTEMBER 30, 2013 Daniels Spectrum Ada Slaight Hall 585 Dundas Street East, Toronto
Programme OPENING: 30 YEARS OF ACT WELCOME Hazelle Palmer, Executive Director MOMENT OF SILENCE PERFORMANCE Billy Newton-Davis GUEST SPEAKER The Honourable Glen Murray, MPP PERFORMANCE Donny Anderson ACT VOLUNTEER YEARS OF SERVICE AWARDS Hazelle Palmer, Executive Director & Ken Tong, ACT Board Member PERFORMANCE Billy Newton-Davis PERFORMANCE Laura Landauer ACT STAFF PAST & PRESENT CLOSING REMARKS Hazelle Palmer & Billy Newton-Davis
ACT Turns 30
BY HAZELLE PALMER - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
t’s 1983. The film Ghandi is a box office success, the United States invades the small Caribbean island of Grenada, and Margaret Thatcher becomes the British Prime Minister. But on the minds of everyone in gay communities across North America is news of a strange new illness, mainly affecting gay men, which first appeared in the U.S. in 1981. By 1983, Health Canada reports 28 deaths due to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) in Canada, a conservative number by their own admission; it would jump to over 1,400 just ten years later. Getting government and health care agents to pay attention to the emerging AIDS crisis was a frustrating effort. It was first seen as an issue that didn’t cross borders – an illness that was happening elsewhere but not in Canada. It was affecting populations that were not considered “mainstream” – primarily gay men, but also hemophiliacs, “heroine users” and Haitians – and therefore not a general public health concern. And, theories (and myths) about the method of transmission seemed to be a breeding ground for fear, misinformation, homophobia, racism and stigma. As early as 1981, stories about AIDS began to emerge –even before a single case was detected in Toronto. And it was members of the gay community who responded. But unlike most American activists of the time they urged caution in the face of fear: we should not turn over our lives and our sexuality to medical “experts”; we should not forget, in our concern for personal health, the health and strength of our communities; and we should come together as ourselves and as communities to understand AIDS and
learn how to deal with it. In July 1983, after a series of community meetings that called for the establishment of an “ongoing AIDS Committee”, a small group of volunteers held a press conference to announce the formation of the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT). ACT was born, and took on the challenge of educating, dispelling myths and fears, providing support and working with others to force governments to take action and respond. Finally, there would be a place where people could turn for accurate information, empathy, support and counseling on AIDS.
Within the first year ACT, along with Toronto Public Health, launched the “Numbers “campaign, targeting gay men and focusing on the reduction of sexual partners as one way to reduce risk of contracting AIDS. A year later, when it was confirmed that AIDS was caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), ACT’s focus would shift from the numbers of one’s sexual partners to campaigns that would emphasize the importance of condom use, safer sex, and making informed decisions. As the number of deaths from AIDS increased, ACT organized the first AIDS Vigil in 1985. When the HIV anti-body test became available in Canada later that year, ACT, along with others, advocated that anonymous testing be offered in order to reduce barriers to testing and the stigma associated with HIV/ AIDS. Protecting the rights of those living with HIV/AIDS was, and continues to be, a priority of ACT. Leading and joining efforts to advocate that HIV/AIDS be a health priority was slow, but
finally resulted in Toronto Public Health developing the first HIV/ AIDS strategy in Canada in 1985 which brought government financial support to community organizations working on the issue, and led to provincial support in 1991 with the formation of the AIDS Bureau. Looking back over the past 30 years, it is easy to identify the milestones that changed the trajectory of HIV/AIDS. The lobbying to secure government attention and financial support for ACT and other AIDS service organizations, the first treatment roll-out of AZT in the 1980s, and the introduction of highly active anti-retro viral medications in 1996 which led to a dramatic decline in AIDS-related deaths â€“ a development that would change dramatically the HIV/AIDS sector and the health and wellbeing of those living with HIV. Now in its 30th year, ACT remains at the forefront of the response to HIV. As the largest AIDS service organization in Canada, our diverse programs and services have evolved to meet the changing needs of the communities we serve. For example, we provide support groups for those newly diagnosed with HIV (it is estimated that there are two new HIV infections in Toronto every day), as well as groups for those living long-term with HIV; we have programming for women, youth and gay men; HIV prevention, education and outreach programs that see staff and volunteers going out into communities to talk about safer sex, to hand out condoms and answer questions. We offer employment services that allow those living with HIV to enter (or re-enter) the workforce, by providing job counselling, training and job placement services. We develop education materials that inform those at risk for HIV, and we increasingly get that information out online and through social media. And, while funding is challenging we still prioritize social marketing campaigns that have helped to build our reputation (remember the Condom Country ads of the late 1990s?) to raise awareness about HIV. Despite clear advances in anti-HIV medications that have made it possible for many to live long lives with HIV, living with HIV is not an easy path. Medications are expensive, they must be taken consistently, and the side effects are unique to each individual; there are co-infections to consider such as the impact of other sexually transmitted infections on health and HIV transmission; and increasingly, there are those aging with HIV, the ramifications of which we are only now beginning to understand.
And there’s HIV-related stigma. From the very beginning of this epidemic, HIV stigma has played a central role in preventing many from seeking testing, isolating those with HIV, and resulting in discrimination against those living with the disease. It continues to be a barrier today. How easy is it to disclose to family, friends, co-workers that you’re HIV-positive, when HIV is linked to sex and drug use – things that our society still has trouble talking openly about – and to communities most affected by HIV in our city that still, by and large are seen as outside of the ‘mainstream”? As ACT turns 30, it is a bittersweet milestone. We can reflect on how far we’ve come, our role in ensuring that those living with HIV/AIDS have the support, information, tools and skills they need to live with the challenges of HIV. We can think about the countless HIV infections that have been avoided because of our HIV prevention and education efforts. But we also recognize that there is still no cure, and no vaccine, and that HIV infections continue. So there’s still much work to do. And, until there is a world without HIV/AIDS, ACT will be here to do what we can to reach that goal. Hazelle Palmer September 30, 2013
ACT Turns 30 Special Guests
Hon. Glen Murray Glen Murray has a lifetime of activism in urban planning, sustainable development and community health. He was the Senior Resident and Visiting Fellow at the Faculty of Architecture and Landscape Design at Massey College, University of Toronto and worked on the Development of the Universityâ€™s City Centre. He was a Managing Partner of AuthentiCITY, a Toronto based Urban Sustainability consulting and planning firm. He was appointed President and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute in 2007 and led the development of award winning programs in community energy mapping and planning, regional economic development and culture lead regeneration of urban centres. He has served on several university, hospital and community boards including the Expo 2015 Bid Committee and the Toronto District School Boardâ€™s Reference Group for Improving Services for Marginalized Students. Glen was appointed by the Prime Minister of Canada to Chair the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE), where he helped to shape environmental policy and respond to climate change in Canada Glen is a founding member of the Canadian AIDS Society and was Director of Health Education and HIV Prevention Services at the Village Clinic/9 Circles Community Health Centre
in Winnipeg. He was also part of the World Health AIDS Service Organization’s working group for the Global Program on AIDS. Glen was mayor of the City of Winnipeg and during his tenure was the Chair of the Big City Mayors Caucus where he led the successful campaign that resulted in the federal government to transfer the equivalent of 5 cents a litre of the federal tax on gas to municipalities for infrastructure renewal and construction. Glen has a long history of active participation in human rights and social activism. He was a member of the Toronto Gay Patrol in 1983, the Co-Chair of Canadians for Equal Marriage and has logged over 5,000 kilometres cycling for Habitat for Humanity’s fundraising “Cycle for Hope” to raise money for affordable housing in Canada. In recognition of Glen’s efforts toward historical preservation in the downtown and his encouragement of high standards and creativity in design, he was made an Honourary Member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in 2002. Glen’s public service has led to several awards including the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, the 2003 “Fight for LGBT Justice and Equality” award from Egale Canada and for his work with the aboriginal community he was given the highest honour of an Eagle Feather. Glen was born in Montreal where he earned a diploma from John Abbott College. He then attended Concordia University’s School of Community and Public Affairs for four years, majoring in Urban Studies. While at Concordia, he served as President of the student union.
Billy Newton-Davis International singing superstar Billy Newton–Davis has been one of Canada’s premier entertainers for many years. His roots were firmly planted at the age of 5 at a Baptist church in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio where he learned to sing gospel music. He began his professional singing career performing repeatedly on the legendary Mike Douglas Show, showing off a new suit on the Jackie Gleason Show and singing back up for Gloria Gaynor in the 1970’s. He moved to Toronto in the mid 80’s from New York, where he had worked as a singer and dancer on Broadway . After appearing on stage in numerous productions including Toronto, Toronto, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and Shimmytime, he turned to a singing and recording career that has spanned an illustrious two and a half decades. His debut album, Love Is a Contact Sport included the songs ‘Deeper,’ ‘Right Beside You,’ and ‘Find My Way Back,’ and won Newton-Davis the 1986 Juno award for best R&B/Soul recording and most promising male vocalist. His 1989 follow-up, Spellbound, included his most successful single, ‘I Can’t Take It,’ as well as ‘Can’t Live with You’ (a duet with Céline Dion), and won the 1989 Juno award as best R&B/Soul recording. In 2008 He won the Juno for ‘Best Dance Recording” with deadmau5. What a wonderful accomplishment at this time in his career. During the early 1990’s, Newton-Davis acted on several television shows including ‘Night Heat’, ‘Littlest Hobo’ and ‘Soul Food’ and had minor roles in films including Atom Egoyan’s ‘The Adjuster’. His televised musical performances have included the
CBC Special ‘A Tribute to Salome Bey’, The Toronto Show’ and numerous hosting duties on The Genie and Juno Awards. Portal Entertainment recently filmed a documentary about his life and career, which has been aired extensively on several TV networks. In 1991, Newton-Davis joined The Nylons and enjoyed a successful stretch performing and touring with the worldrenowned singing group. Since leaving the Nylons, he has primarily concentrated on songwriting and live jazz and gospel performances. His live shows are where he has gained the greatest acclaim. He has shared stages with some of the biggest performing artists of all time and is considered to be one of Canada’s finest entertainers. Some memorable appearances include performing as the opening act for legends such as Eartha Kitt, Joan Rivers and Sandra Bernhard at Toronto’s famous Imperial Room at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and being a guest vocalist on the ‘Seekers Dialogue’ series with internationally acclaimed author and lecturer Marianne Williamson. Newton-Davis has extensively donated his talent towards humanitarian causes, raising money for the gay community, AIDS awareness, Actors Equity, housing for people with mental illness and countless other charities and causes. Newton-Davis puts his heart first: ‘I want the world to know that I am sincere. I love what I do and I want to bring that sincerity to my fans when I perform. He also helps pave the path for new talent. NewtonDavis works in New York and Los Angeles as a musical talent consultant. ‘It is a rich pursuit to be surrounded by the enthusiasm of strong, young accredited vocalists’. He is not only responsible for the in-studio, live and visual media development of his clients, but he has become known for having an instrumental eye in spotting raw talent and shaping it’s developmental course in achieving industry goals. “What is it worth without Peace, Love, And…?” Award winning songwriter, recording artist, singer, humanitarian, mentor, heartfelt performer, and superstar, Billy Newton-Davis is poised to continue his legendary musical journey reaching audiences worldwide. You will feel the love when you hear him sing.
Donny Anderson As an artist: Donny Anderson was a Canadian Idol Finalist and a SemiFinalist for a YTV Achievement Award in Canada. His debut EP was produced by Maia Sharp, who produced the latest Edwin McCain record Mercy Bound and is also a highly celebrated songwriter, penning hits for The Dixie Chicks, Bonnie Raitt, and many others. Donny has showcased for music supervisors at NBC/Universal Studios in New York City and Los Angeles, California. Donny’s latest record was produced by famed Canadian songwriter-producer, Terry Sawchuk - having been on the production team for Our Lady Peace, Alanis Morisette and Matt Dusk as well as co-writing the hit country song Barefoot Blue Jean Night for country artist Jake Owen. Donny will also be heard in an upcoming 2013 Lifetime film as the singing voice for a lead character. Other notable performances include: touring with Canadian Icon Alannah Myles on a 14-city European tour in 2011, including duets during Alannah’s show. The Special Olympics - televised in Canada 2010, Triple ‘A’ Sunset Sessions convention in San Diego with Jason Mraz and Melissa Etheridge. The Merritt Walk of Stars Gala in the country music capital of Canada sponsored by CMT. Sharing the stage with major recording arists including Terri Clark, Doc Walker, Johnny Reid and Alannah Myles, as well as a performance at the CCMA Awards Post Gala in September 2009.
As a songwriter Donny has been fortunate to be able to work with some of North America’s most notable songwriters and producers including: Maia Sharp, Shane McAnally, Andy Stochansky, Terry Sawchuk, Christopher Ward, Rob Wells, Dylan Altman, Alissa Moreno, Dave Thompson, Robin Lerner, James House, Greg Barnhill, Billy Falcon, Randy Sharp, Jen Adan, Dean Kripphane, Josiah Rosen, Pam Rose, Jamie Hartman, Johnny Reid, Patricia Conroy, and many others. Donny’s had two songs recorded by 4th place Canadian Idol Finalist Chad Doucette called “Serenade” and “You’ll Come Around”. “Serenade” was featured in the internationally released movie Love Me. Donny has had two other songs recorded by other Idol Finalists: Tyler Lewis (3rd Place) with a song called “Worth Fighting For”; and Mitchell Hunter with “Love Love”. Donny’s co-written song “Daylight Lover” was recorded by international blues artist Alison Joy Williams. Donny co-wrote seven songs that appear on Kayla Coburn’s debut album, which Donny also produced. Two of Donny’s co-writes also appear and are featured on rising Canadian country star Jesse Slack’s debut EP. Donny has had three songs he co-wrote and produced featured on the CMT Canada series Unstable.
Laura Landauer Laura Landauer is an amazingly diverse entertainer, equally comfortable performing as an actor, singer, or comedian. She has recently received world wide attention for her spot-on portrayal of Celine Dion. Her short films have appeared on television shows, including Entertainment Tonight, across North America and Europe, and have extensive world wide viewership online. Laura has appeared on television shows including Video on Trial (Much Music), The Hour (CBC), Bathroom Divas (Bravo/Ovation), Looka-Like (TV Guide Channel/Star TV), the space TV classic Star Hunter and the film The Love Guru. Comedy credits include The Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Yuk Yuk’s Toronto, and The Debaters (CBC). Laura’s stage work has included musical theatre, comedia dell’arte, as well as several independent and Fringe Festival productions. Born and raised in Montreal, she is currently living in Toronto.
Volunteer Years of Service Awards 5 YEARS
2008 - 2013
1998 - 2013
Harvey D. St. Amant
Soumidh Mondal Amanda Richards Viola Roth
1993 - 2013 Paul Felix Robert Jeyes
10 YEARS 2003 - 2013 Stephan Blizzard Dan Caputo Brian Denyer Dorothy Whittick Kelly Hawken Patricia Hernandez-Crowe Lydia Emmanouil
ACT Staff Years of Service Awards We are grateful to the many individuals who have worked at ACT over the past 30 years. Tonight, we acknowledge the contributions of the following staff members who continue to provide service to our community:
5 YEARS 2008 - 2013 Saif Ahmed Adam Busch Pieter Huisman Rick Julien
10 YEARS 2003 - 2013 Peter Stephenson
20 YEARS 1993 - 2013 John Gaylord
Thank you to the following ACT staff members and volunteers for making tonightâ€™s event possible:
Nadia Bello Miguel Cubillos Kyle Greenwood Bobby Hrehoruk Ryan Lisk Sergio Martinez John Maxwell Hazelle Palmer Robin Rhodes Adam Salter Michael Schneider Darin Squire Jocelyn Watchorn
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the following for their contributions to tonightâ€™s event: