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Neil Peart, Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson

Sun, Jun 16, 2024

Rush is awarded the 2017 Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award

Thu, Apr 20, 2017@9:10PM | comments

UPDATE - 4/20@10:14AM: Here's the video:

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UPDATE - 4/23@8:43AM: Billboard has posted a detailed report of the presentation of the Award, including some quotes from Rush's acceptance speech (thanks RushFanForever):

"They have been part of my rock 'n' roll family ever since my dad, Allan Slaight, launched Q107 in the late '70s," said Gary Slaight. "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."

The Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, who has already given Rush the keys to the city, and named a park after Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson (Neil Peart is not from Toronto), also came on stage, sporting a Rush t-shirt, to say a few words.

After a tribute video, which highlighted the band's success and charity initiatives, Slaight also announced that the $40,000 The Slaight Family Foundation gives to a charity of the award recipient's choice is going to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research at Sunnybrook - and that the members of Rush will match that amount.

Lee and Lifeson were both on hand. Calling it a "most humbling recognition," Lifeson said, "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, anger and hatred competing with love and compassion. It is more crucial than ever to champion the basic principles of human welfare.

"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 added. "I agree with all that. And on behalf of Neil [Peart] as well."

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UPDATE - 4/21@7:19PM: The Canadian Music Scene has posted a great batch of photos from last night's event, including several of Alex and Geddy receiving the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. You can check them all out here.

The annual Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards Gala Dinner is currently taking place this evening at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto. Earlier in the evening Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson 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. Postmedia Network music columnist Jane Stevenson posted a photo of Geddy and Alex accepting the award to her Twitter as seen here. The Award was presented by Toronto Mayor John Tory who was sporting a Rush Moving Pictures t-shirt as seen in this tweet from Stevenson. Billboard posted an article last week highlighting the Award and Rush's many charitable endeavors over the years titled Why Rush Might Be the Most Generous Band In the World. The article includes these comments from Geddy Lee:

"They're giving us an award for doing what everyone should do," Geddy Lee tells Billboard. "It should be a part of everyone's upbringing and routine of life: You share when you've been blessed with good fortune. The world needs a lot of work, and there are not enough workers. We try to help where we can."

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. The article goes on to highlight some of the band's more high profile charitable actions of the past several years including their 2008 donation of $100,000 to the Make It Right Foundation to help New Orleans rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, their $100,000 contribution from a Winnipeg concert to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the $575,000 they raised for southern Alberta flood relief in 2013, and the estimated $2 million the band has raised since 2010 by donating $1 from every concert ticket sold to various organizations, including Doctors Without Borders.