On the eve of Remembrance Day, 2,100 attendees, including members of the Canadian Forces, corporate and community leaders, and politicians gathered at the Allstream Centre for True Patriot Love’s 3rdannual Tribute Dinner, to recognize the sacrifices of members of the Canadian Forces and their families, raising more than $2.6M in the process.
“While Canada’s mission in Afghanistan is coming to a close, the aftershock for military families can be everlasting. And the day-to-day challenges that military families face – like being posted far away from extended family – will be ever present. We need to challenge ourselves to continue to support those who have been supporting us, whether it’s in a time of conflict or peace,” said Shaun Francis, Chair of the True Patriot Love Foundation.
The money raised at this latest Tribute Dinner presented by Bell Canada will support military families through programs that provide psychological counselling, retrofit homes and cars for soldiers returning with injuries, rehabilitate wounded soldiers through sport, and help families in the community cope with the everyday challenges that come with service.
“We are honoured to be here in Toronto and I am so thankful that Canadians recognize the service and sacrifices made by their sons and daughters in uniform. Words can hardly express the gratitude we feel for all that the True Patriot Love Foundation has done for our families and your military,” said the Chief of Defence Staff, General Walt Natynczyk. “The support of Canadians is making a difference for military families, the wounded, ill and injured, and the families of the fallen. These initiatives and the funding from tonight’s gala clearly demonstrate to our troops that Canada really cares.”
- Since its inception in 2009, the True Patriot Love Foundation has raised more than $9.7 million through three Tribute Dinners in Toronto (2009, 2010, 2011), one in Fredericton (2010), one in Vancouver (2011) and one in Halifax (2011).
- The money raised has been donated to organizations that support military families, including:
- Military Families Fund – To provide immediate support where government is unable, including counselling, local supports for children with special needs, and help for families to reunite in times of illness, injury and death.
- Military Family Resource Centres – To meet the needs of military families and to give them opportunities to enhance their quality of life, including childcare, children’s programming and career development.
- Soldier On – To optimize the functional independence of ill or injured Canadian Forces personnel through programs that support their full and active participation in physical fitness, health promotion and sport.
- Two new initiatives were announced at the Toronto Dinner:
- The True Patriot Love Mount Everest Climb in support of Soldier On: In the Fall of 2012, a group of Canadian veterans injured in Afghanistan will test their limits by conquering the highest point on earth as part of their recovery.
- The True Patriot Love Vimy Pilgrimage Award for Outstanding Youth Leadership and Service: In August 2012, young people who have been recognized for their outstanding community service and leadership will be awarded a fully funded, week-long educational program in Vimy, France, to study Canada’s tremendous First World War effort.
- For the third year in a row, Canadian artists transformed military helmets into unique works of art. A symbol of protection and our hope for the safe return of our soldiers, each helmet reflects each artist’s vision of Canada and honours the sacrifices made.
- Notable attendees at the 2011 Toronto Tribute Dinner include General Walter Natynczyk, General (Retired) Rick Hiller, the Honourable Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence , Mrs. Laureen Harper, Mr. David Jacobson, US Ambassador to Canada and Dr. Andrew Pocock, UK High Commissioner to Canada, and George Cope, President and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada.
- Musical entertainment was provided by the Trews and Sass Jordan.
- In August 2011, the True Patriot Love Foundation in partnership with the Government of Ontario announced a plaque program to commemorate the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers and their families, which will be placed at 26 bridges along the Highway of Heroes.
- In the spring of 2012, True Patriot Love will be hosting its second annual Invitational for Heroes golf tournament.
“Bell knows that Canadian Forces members and their families are there for all Canadians, and we are proud to work with the True Patriot Love Foundation to help support their well being,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of the Bell Mental Health Initiative. “We are pleased that our sponsorship of tonight’s event will support the service men and women, and their families, dealing with issues related to mental health.”