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Ottawa fetes Canada’s political writers while Toronto raises funds for AIDS research

Politics and the Pen gala, Ottawa

Five hundred political and literary types convened on May 9 at the Fairmont Château Laurier in Canada’s capital for the Politics and the Pen gala. The soirée has long been a must-do, and this year, once again, it was a sold-out happening (I’m told there was even a waiting list for tickets). The dinner raises funds for the Writers’ Trust of Canada – $380,000, alone, at this latest – and over the course of the event’s history more than $3.7-million has been collected. The night also serves as the platform to hand out the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, now in its 18th year. The announcement was the climax of the night, with Tanya Talaga taking home the $25,000 prize for her book Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City. On hosting duties was House Leader the Honorable Bardish Chagger, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who did a Bhangra-style dance as he made his way to the stage. The event was co-chaired by Shaw Communications director of corporate affairs Alayne Crawford and National Public Relations senior vice-president Dan Mader.

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CANFAR Can You Do Lunch?, Toronto

The following week back in Toronto, CANFAR, the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research, held its annual midday fundraiser Can You Do Lunch? on May 16. The event was formed six years ago to support CANFAR’s research in HIV prevention, treatment and care. HIV in Canada remains a serious issue, according to the organization; it is estimated that, in this country, one person is infected with HIV every three hours and one in five people living with HIV is unaware of their status. During the lunch, an on-stage conversation about “courage and compassion in leadership” was lead by Valerie Pringle, a broadcaster and CANFAR national spokesperson (her husband Andrew Pringle chairs the CANFAR board of directors).

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