The annual Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards Gala Dinner took place last week at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto as part of Canadian Music Week. Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson were in attendance and accepted the 2017 Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award, which was awarded to Rush for their achievements and longstanding career in the music industry, social activism and support of humanitarian causes. According to this report from Billboard, Allan Slaight's son Gary took the stage to introduce the Award and said the following words:
... They have been part of my rock 'n' roll family ever since my dad, Allan Slaight, launched Q107 in the late '70s. Playing lots of Rush was a key reason for our early success. In 1982, Rush staged their first benefit concert. It was at Maple Leaf Gardens for the United Way. Dad was chair of the campaign at the time. Since then, they have gone on to help a vast array of charities both collectively and individually. They have raised funds for Alberta Flood Relief, Winnipeg's Museum of Human Rights, Toronto's Second Harvest, AIDS research, UNICEF to name but a few. For their last series of tours, the band donated one dollar for every concert ticket sold to various charities. That initiative alone has raised over two million dollars. ...
Toronto Mayor John Tory then came on stage sporting a Rush Moving Pictures t-shirt to say a few words before a tribute video highlighting the band's success and charity initiatives was shown. The pair then took the stage to accept the Award with Lifeson doing the bulk of the talking:
"Seldom in our times have we felt a greater need for the humanitarian spirit than now, with the rising voices of fear and distrust becoming more commonplace. Ager and hatred competing with love and compassion. It is more crucial than ever to champion the basic principles of human welfare," he said. "We are all capable of promoting these ideals and see it in the courageous spirit of Malala Yousafzai or the unwavering spirit of so many other human rights champions. We are all capable of doing something, grand or humble to further our moral obligation to make the world a better place for all. It should be every person's hope and intent to follow in the steps of those who lead us in a direction towards compassion, empathy and care for many in need of a helping hand and a gentle pull up. Thank you very much."
"Just what he said," Lee said. "I agree with all that. And on behalf of Neil [Peart] as well."
Recipients of the award are also given $40,000 to be donated to their charity of choice, and Rush will be donating their prize to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research. Samaritan Magazine sat down with Geddy and Alex after the ceremony for an exclusive interview to discuss the Award and all of their charitable endeavors. Here's what Geddy said when asked about their choice of the Gord Downie Fund for their $40000 donation:
I lost a friend to brain cancer and it's close to my heart and we've all been touched in our families by somebody that has that illness. And we're all still heartbroken over Gord. So it was an opportunity, and it's sort of in the air what Gord is doing, so it just seemed like the right timing to try to help.
You can read the entire interview online here. The Canadian Music Scene has also posted a great batch of photos from the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards ceremony, including several of Alex and Geddy which you can check out here.