We spoke to Bloor Street Entertains 2023 co-chairs Candice Sinclair, Janice Fricker, and Michael Liebrock, as well as honourary chair Sylvia Mantella about this year’s upcoming event and CANFAR’s mission…
The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) is set to host the 27th edition of its marquee annual fundraiser, Bloor Street Entertains, on November 30, 2023. Taking place on the eve of World AIDS Day, BSE27 will position CANFAR’s mission to end the HIV epidemic in Canada at the forefront of this grand event.
Bloor Street Entertains features over 900 guests dining at intimate dinners in some of Bloor-Yorkville’s most iconic venues and luxury retailers, followed by an exclusive after party at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. This year’s performances include recording artist Mya and trumpeter and composer Sean Jones.
Last year’s event raised a record-breaking $1.4 million to help fund CANFAR’s investments in research, implementation projects, and national awareness programs.
But an event like Bloor Street Entertains – spanning over 25 venues and experiences – is an incredible undertaking, and only possible with the help of an almost 30-member committee that comprises philanthropists and advocates.
The committee this year is co-chaired by Candice Sinclair, Janice Fricker, and Michael Liebrock, with Sylvia Mantella serving as Honourary Chair. We asked them to tell us more about Bloor Street Entertains and CANFAR’s mission.
Why is the fight to end the HIV epidemic in Canada so important to you?
CANDICE: The fight to end the HIV epidemic in Canada is of great importance to me because every person’s health and well-being is valuable. It’s essential to guarantee access to proper care, expand testing, combat stigma, and strive to eradicate a virus that has impacted millions of lives. Another thing is that we are so close to ending it; but we need to keep striving to destigmatize HIV so that people are actively getting tested and we are able to reach the 10% of Canadians living with HIV who don’t know their status and are not connected to care.
JANICE: I strongly believe that taking charge of one’s health and wellness leads to a better and longer life. By prioritizing investments in HIV prevention, education, testing, and treatment, we can enhance the lives of individuals impacted by HIV while simultaneously strengthening healthcare systems and promoting overall well-being.
Glitz and glam aside; what is your favourite thing about Bloor Street Entertains?
SYLVIA: BSE is one of my favourite nights of the year in Toronto, when over 900 people simultaneously dine together at different exquisite venues across Bloor Street and throughout Yorkville. Every person, from guest to volunteer, is there for the same reason – in a show of support for the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research elevating awareness, sharing incredibly heart-touching stories of resilience, and raising much needed funding.
MICHAEL: Bloor Street Entertains is a fusion of community support and high-energy awareness. Picture this: Canada’s fashion, retail, business, and healthcare leaders coming together for one epic night of vibrant celebration that unites people in the most fabulous way! It’s all about building on our incredible community support and raising awareness.
Why are organizations like CANFAR and events like Bloor Street Entertains so important for our communities?
CANDICE: Organizations like CANFAR are crucial for our communities because they raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, fund research, and support individuals affected by the virus. They help reduce stigma, promote education, and contribute to a safer and more compassionate society. BSE lets us raise awareness about other initiatives that CANFAR has like Sexfluent, and celebrates the amazing milestones we have accomplished in treating HIV/AIDS. It also highlights the importance of HIV testing, CANFAR’s investment in HIV self-testing and rapid testing clinics and technologies, and reminds everyone that HIV is still an epidemic in Canada.
MICHAEL: Organizations like CANFAR and events like Bloor Street Entertains are critical as they energize support, funds, and awareness for life-changing causes, like HIV/AIDS research and care, and by doing so they foster unity and hope. They create energy and animate our communities!
If you had to choose one takeaway for every guest at Bloor Street Entertains 27; what would it be? What should everyone leave the event thinking about or feeling?
JANICE: My aspiration is for individuals to emerge from BSE with a sense of confidence in the strength of community and the collective power of its members. When people unite to address a common goal, they can accomplish remarkable feats, and I hope this realization empowers them.
CANDICE: Everyone should leave the event feeling moved by the journeys shared, inspired by the milestones overcome, and hopeful that by uniting, we can ultimately bring an end to this epidemic. It ends with us.
HIV/AIDS is still an epidemic in Canada; how will we change that?
JANICE: For me, the key to ending the HIV epidemic lies in providing education and easily accessible resources for testing and treatment. By spreading awareness on a broad scale, we can reach more individuals and extend our outreach, ultimately making a significant impact toward stopping new transmissions in Canada.
Bloor Street Entertains 27 will take place on Thursday November 30, 2023. For more information on the evening or for more information on CANFAR visit, canfar.com.
Candice Sinclair is a philanthropist and entrepreneur. Janice Fricker is a philanthropist and entrepreneur. Michael Liebrock is the Managing Director of a private investment firm. Sylvia Mantella is Vice President of Marketing, Sponsorship and Philanthropy at Mantella Corporation.