The annual event commemorating and celebrating the lives of those who have passed from AIDS and AIDS related illnesses will take place at Barbara Hall Park on June 18, 2019 at 9 p.m.
TORONTO, ON (May 22, 2019) – When sundown hits on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, hundreds of LGBTTIQQ2S+ community members will gather at the 35th annual Toronto AIDS Candlelight Vigil in Barbara Hall Park (519 Church Street, Toronto) to honour the lives of those who have passed from AIDS or AIDS related illnesses, or have given their lives in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This year’s vigil theme, ‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ will provide a retrospective look back through time at the multitude of loss, journey and suffering in the HIV/AIDS movement, to innovate advocacy and activism.
“Each year, we come together to care, support and advocate for all communities affected by the virus,” says Karen Cohen, AIDS Vigil Committee of Toronto Co-Chair. “Since inception, the AIDS Candlelight Vigil has served as the annual community event for people living with HIV/AIDS, along with friends, family, allies and the broader communities to honour the lives lost to the disease and celebrate those who live with the virus.”
It is estimated that six people in Canada become newly infected with HIV everyday. Over 20,000+ people have been diagnosed with HIV in Toronto since 1985, and it is estimated that about 10,000+ people are currently living with HIV in Toronto.
This year’s vigil will be hosted by Amutha Samgam and Kerolos Saleib, and will include performances from drag artists Jezebel Bardot and Jade Elektra, Les Chiclettes’ Nathalie Nadon and spoken word artist Bryan Deresti. 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.
About Kerolos Saleib (Kero):
Kero was diagnosed with HIV in 2007, and after a long period of struggling with substance use and homelessness, he regained a strong sense of purpose after spending two years involved in local HIV and AIDS organizations in Kenya. From the time he moved back to North America until now, Kero has become a leading voice of change in LGBTQ Middle Eastern communities affected by HIV and AIDS. In 2012, Kero was recognized by the White House and the Historic Society of D.C. as one of the country’s heroes among 200 others, including the late Martin Luther King, Jr.
About Amutha Samgam:
Amutha is a member of Board of Directors for the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP), Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS), AIDS Committee of York Region (ACYR) and Myrmex Non-Profit Housing. Samgam also volunteers for the Teresa Group advisory board, providing much-needed support to people living with HIV and to those who are parenting children and youth living with and affected by HIV. In 2006, Amutha also worked as a Visa Entry Coordinator at the International AIDS Conference, to facilitate a hassle-free welcome for international delegates coming from countries where HIV is endemic.
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.
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