Themed “Strengths in Communities”, recognizing HIV/AIDS activism, support and compassion within community groups, the annual commemorative event will take place on June 19, 2018 at 9 p.m.
TORONTO, ON (May 16, 2018) – Just after dusk, on the evening of Tuesday, June 19, 2018, hundreds of LGBTTIQQ2S+ community members and allies will remember, honour and celebrate those who have passed from AIDS or AIDS related illnesses, or have given their lives in the fight against HIV/AIDS at the 34th annual Toronto AIDS Candlelight Vigil held in Barbara Hall Park (519 Church Street, Toronto) at 9:00 p.m.
“Since its inception, the AIDS Candlelight Vigil has served as the annual community event for people living with HIV/AIDS, friends, family, allies and the broader communities to honor the lives lost to the disease, and to celebrate those who live with the virus,” says Karen Cohen, AIDS Vigil Committee of Toronto Co-Chair. “With this year’s theme of Strengths in Communities, we aim to celebrate the activism, support and compassion within communities affected by HIV/AIDS in Canada.”
At the end of 2014, the estimated number of persons living with HIV in Canada was 75,500. It is estimated that 1 in every 5 Canadians infected with HIV has not been diagnosed (Public Health Canada, 2014). “The fight against HIV is not over, and we cannot be complacent when an average of 6.4 new HIV diagnoses are given daily.” (Canadian AIDS Society, 2016)
The evening will be hosted by Kay Roesslein and Haran Vijayanathan, and will include performances from LGBTQ2S+ chorus group Singing Out, cabaret trio Deaf That!, soprano Alexa Frankian and bass Wesley Hui. The event will close with a reading of the names of those who have passed from HIV/AIDS or AIDS related illnesses, followed by a candle lighting ceremony. The names read prior to the candle lighting ceremony will be engraved on the long-standing AIDS Memorial in the heart of Barbara Hall Park.
“True community strengths are the bridges we build,” says vigil co-host Kay Roesslein. “It is important to build strength and respect our differences rather than assimilate and create negative feelings,” adds co-host Haran Vijayanathan.
Event host Kay Roesslein has 26 years experience working with LOFT Community Services/McEwan Housing & Support Services: working with those who are HIV positive having mental health and substance use challenges, experience homelessness or complex care challenges, to provide stable housing and community outreach. Co-host Haran Vijayanathan, Director at the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention, founded the first LGBTQ+ organization in York Region, called My House: Rainbow Resources of York Region in 2012.
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About The Toronto Candlelight AIDS Vigil:
The AIDS Candlelight Vigil is an open community event held annually at the AIDS Memorial to remember, honour and celebrate the people who have died of AIDS or AIDS related illnesses, or who have given their lives in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Every year, thousands of candles are lighted to honour and remember those who have died, and to encourage and support the tens of thousands of others who live with this disease every day.
The Vigil embraces diversity, accepting and respecting people of all cultures, faiths, traditions and communities. The Vigil welcomes all people who have been infected or affected by HIV/AIDS and embraces anyone who has experienced a loss or losses due to HIV/AIDS.