EXCLUSIVE: Inside the Canada for Haiti telethon

CBC BROADCAST CENTRE [PeterPaul.ca] — A host of Canadian celebrities joined together on Friday for the “Canada for Haiti” telethon at CBC headquarters on Front St., raising over $9 million dollars after a devastating earthquake caused widespread damage and death on January 12.

A host of Canada NGO’s including the Canadian Red Cross, Care Canada, Free the Children, UNICEF, and World Vision, will split the donations evenly. Live musical performances by K’Naan, Nelly Furtado, and Canadian band Metric entertained the millions of viewers who tuned in.

The telethon was carried live by all major Canadian broadcasters and featured taped statements from the Canadian Prime Minister and Governor General. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the disaster “Touched the hearts of many,“ and that “Much is needed. Much more.”

Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean addressed the Haitian people directly in a taped statement from a Montreal fundraiser. “We are looking everywhere for ways to help you, to support your efforts and to let you know that you are not alone, everyone is thinking of you,” she said.

Director Atom Egoyan, speaking directly to the Haitian people, said “We‘ll be there for you in the days, months, and years to come,” during a media scrum prior to the show.

“Dragons Den” star W. Brett Wilson said he was considering bringing bags of money to the impoverished country. “The other dragons I know are putting up money,” Wilson told the Examiner.com during a media scrum. “She‘s 22 and has already visited 30 countries,” said Wilson of his daughter Rebecca, who was en route to Haiti on Friday he revealed.

Construction guru Mike Holmes said he would wait until the cleanup is complete to decide whether he would help rebuild the country. “Not right away, they need to get some order in there. Then somebody like me could go down there and help,” said Holmes.

UNICEF President and CEO Nigel Fisher said that providing water and preventing child trafficking were the main priorities for his organization. “Today its water to keeps kids alive and then its about family unification, protecting kids from abuse and trafficking,” said Fisher.

He added that UNICEF alone has raised $10 to 11 million dollars for the children of Haiti.

“The biggest support we’ve had is on Facebook,” he added.

UNICEF said the impact on children was being “aggravated by the country’s longstanding impoverishment and instability”

More:

  • George Stroumboulopoulos, host of CBC‘s “The Hour” said the one hour telethon “Went very well” in an interview with PeterPaul.ca following the event. He said the highlight of the night was “When Geddy Lee says ‘come on man, we‘re Canadian, were good at this kind of thing, were good at coming together.’”
  • About 200,000 Haitians were killed when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck last week, another two million are homeless, according to the latest UN figures.
  • Ottawa announced Saturday that a $50 million dollar cap on matching donations for Haiti has been lifted, which means the federal government will match every dollar donated by Canadians.
  • The Haitian government has called off the search for people trapped beneath the rubble even as more survivors were being pulled out 11 days after the quake struck.

“Don’t forget the story,” said Stroumboulopoulos when asked what Canadians should do next.

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