CJFE Gala 2010: Huge success on many levels

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Members, journalists and supporters mingling at the CJFE Gala 2010
Thursday November 25, 2010 Royal York Hotel Toronto If you were at the Royal York on Gala night you could feel the energy. 575 people in the room networking, bidding on silent auction items while talking and laughing with friends and colleagues made quite a ruckus. The evening was a huge success on many levels and it took a lot of work and dedication to make it the most attended and successful gala ever for CJFE. There were many moments during the evening that brought smiles to faces, tears to eyes and the crowd to their feet. Our award recipients and other featured guests were the main reason we gather together in recognition of their bravery. A true reminder that this evening, while honouring fearlessness, is about people who risked speaking out in spite of their fears…this is what makes them so exceptional. Organizers were on the edge of their seats waiting to hear if our Cameroonian friends would get visas in time to accept the award on behalf of the recipients –they arrived and with them the best news ever…Robert Mintya and Serge Sabouang, two of our award winners, were released provisionally from jail the day before the gala! While Bibi Ngota, who died in prison, was not so fortunate, his sister Thérèse and brother-in-law Bosco were here to accept the tribute and also transmit the whole proceedings live back to Cameroon. Luis Horacio Nájera from Mexico told of his life in Vancouver since being forced to flee for his life from Juarez, Mexico and accepted the award on behalf of his co-recipient Emilio Gutiérrez Soto also from Mexico who was unable to attend, and in the name of his three journalist friends who were murdered while doing their jobs. Click here to read more about the 2010 Award Winners. Shokoor Feroz, the fixer who worked with CBC’s Mellissa Fung, held the audience rapt as he spoke of the ordeal surrounding her kidnapping and his incarceration in Afghanistan in 2008. Richard Colvin, a senior Canadian Diplomatic Officer currently was acknowledged for speaking out about the possible torture of Afghan detainees turned over to the Afghan National Directorate by the Canadian military. Both received standing ovations for their contributions, however different, to free expression. Another Canadian contribution to free expression was recognized when the Citizen Lab received the 2010 Vox Libera award. Founding director Ron Diebert accepted on behalf of the team based at the Munk Centre at the University of Toronto. Many thanks go to all those who made it possible with very special thanks to Carol Off for steering the gala ship, our sponsors, Anne Marie Mediwake and Victor Malarek for doing such a fine job emceeing the evening, the legion of volunteers and others who helped in the planning and organization of the gala. And finally thank you to everyone who attended and made this a fitting tribute to the people honoured that night. By Annie Game, Executive Director Read what people attending the gala had to say about free expression

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