Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The International AIDS Vigil

The following is a press-release related to the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada.

HONOURING. REMEMBERING. CELEBRATING.
The International AIDS Vigil
Thursday, August 17, 9 PM
Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto, Canada

Public Event in Heart of Downtown Toronto
Caps XVI International AIDS Conference

Toronto, ON - July 25, 2006 -- The International AIDS Vigil Committee, a project of the 519 Church Street Community Centre, in cooperation with the XVI International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2006), presents The International AIDS Vigil, a public memorial to those who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. The event takes place, rain or shine, Thursday, August 17, 9 PM, at Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto.

“We believe this is a unique opportunity for the local community to join together with conference delegates for a moment of remembrance and reflection,” says Jocelyn Watchorn, Co-Chair of The International AIDS Vigil Committee.

The AIDS International Vigil will begin at dusk with a symbolic candle lighting ceremony and end with the illumination of thousands of glow sticks. The event is expected to attract many of the political, scientific and community leaders working on the front lines of the pandemic as well as a wide representation of people from affected communities. Along with music and readings, the hour-long memorial features the “naming of names”, a poignant moment where the names of the deceased are called aloud from the stage, and from the audience.

The format of the AIDS International Vigil follows a tradition established by the Toronto AIDS Candlelight Vigil, one of the longest running AIDS vigils in the world and a highlight of local Pride Week festivities. Established in 1985 as a humble gathering of friends and family members behind the 519 Church Street Community Centre, the Toronto AIDS Candlelight Vigil has developed into an annual event, which takes place in Cawthra Square Park, in the heart of Toronto’s gay village. The park is home to a permanent AIDS Memorial. Over 2,500 names are etched into the pillars of the memorial, including the name of the man who was the driving force behind the project – Michael Lynch.

The International AIDS Vigil acknowledges the profound devastation HIV/AIDS has wrought within the gay and lesbian community and salutes the leadership role played by that community in the fight to overcome this deadly disease. At the same time, it recognizes the impact of HIV/AIDS on people all over the world. To that end, organizers of the vigil welcome anyone who may have experienced a personal loss or losses due to HIV/AIDS.

The International AIDS Vigil will be sign language interpreted and wheelchair accessible. Donations will be accepted. All proceeds go to the Ontario AIDS Network Positive Action Fund, which provides emergency financial assistance to people with HIV/AIDS.

For more information, call the International AIDS Vigil info line at 416-392-6878, ext. 312 or visit the 519 Church Street Community Centre Web site at www.the519.org.

The International AIDS Conference takes place in Toronto, Canada from August 13 to August 18, 2006. It is expected to attract 20,000 expert participants from around the world. For full conference details, go to this site.

About the International AIDS Vigil Committee:

The International AIDS Vigil Committee is an official project of the 519 Church Street Community Centre. The Committee represents a diverse group of agencies, as well as the overall diversity of the Toronto AIDS Community.

About the International AIDS Conference:

The International AIDS Conference is convened every other year by the International AIDS Society (IAS), the world’s leading independent association of HIV professionals, with more than 7,000 members in 153 countries. The Toronto Local Host is a not-for-profit organization created specifically to host the Conference, and is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of leaders engaged in the Canadian response to HIV/AIDS.


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Julie Giles
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