Using star power to help spread the word
Several Canadian celebs have lent their support to causes, organizations and charities they care about
DEAN LISK SPECIAL TO THE STAR This content was funded but not approved by the advertisers.
Through personal experience or passion, many well-known Canadians have used their recognition to amplify campaigns and organizations. Their familiar faces help to get the public’s attention and bring awareness to a cause. Here is a look at just a few of them.
Michael J. Fox
Since going public with his own Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2000, the Canadian-born actor — known for his roles as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movie series and as Alex P. Keaton on the television show “Family Ties” — has been a tireless advocate and even launched the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
The foundation notes that its strategic plan to beat the disease includes providing millions on dollars in high-risk-high-reward Parkinson’s research and treatments that other groups usually do not fund, to help speed breakthroughs that patients can feel in their everyday lives.
Calgary based singer-songwriter Jann Arden is asking Canadians to “say neigh” with her support of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition in its campaign to put an end to the live export of horses from Canada to be slaughtered for human consumption.
According to the coalition, a loophole allows live horses to be sent to foreign countries to be butchered for their meat. Arden met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in late June to discuss the issue, which the coalition adds on its website ended with his assurance that steps were being taken stop the practice. In September of this year, Liberal Member of Parliament Tim Louis introduced a private member’s bill to ban live horse exports.
If you are still looking for a holiday or birthday gift, you can purchase a personalized video from Arden through the Cameo app, with the proceeds going to animal welfare.
Serena Ryder, Leela Gilday and other Canadian artists
In March of this year, more than 50 Canadian artists, including Serena Ryder, Leela Gilda, Alessia Cara and Jully Black, recorded the song “What I Wouldn’t Do (North Star Calling)” in support of Feel Out Loud, a Kids Help Phone fundraising campaign addressing youth mental health concerns — including anxiety and stress, relationship issues, depression, suicidal thoughts and feelings of isolation.
The song — and its accompanying video — combined the lyrics of Ryder’s song “What I Wouldn’t Do” with the bridge from Gilday’s “North Star Calling.” It also features children’s choirs from the Sarah McLachlan School of Music in Vancouver and the Chief Jimmy Bruneau School in Behchoko, N.W.T. The Kids Help Phone’s Feel Out Loud campaign is hoping to raise $300 million.
During the 2023 season, Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Chris Bassitt and his wife, Jessica, pledged to donate US$10,000 to the Jays Care Foundation for every game the team won while he was playing. At the time of his July announcement, they had already committed $120,000.
The money would go specifically toward the Jays Care’s RBI Summer Edition, a free program to improve the physical and mental wellness of youth in under-resourced Toronto communities. More than 1,000 students from eight schools participated in the summer school program that including teambuilding sports and activities.
Having revealed her own breast cancer diagnosis in 2022, Jeanne Beker — a founding member of MuchMusic, a Canadian fashion icon and a member of the Order of Canada — has lent her name to cancer research and awareness. Among the fundraising campaigns Beker has participated in are The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation’s The Art of Conquering Cancer, La Vie En Rose’s Be Your Own Breast Friend, Dense Breasts Canada’s Breast Density Matters and the Canadian Cancer Society’s CIBC Run for the Cure.
Beker’s past chartable work has also included serving as an honorary chair of Toronto’s Fashion Cares, a fundraising event to raise awareness and research around HIV/AIDS, and sitting on the honorary board of Gilda’s Club, a support community for individuals and their families impacted by cancer.
Toronto Star Newspapers Limited