A Future Reimagined – The 37th Children’s Aid Foundation Gala – Teddy Bear Affair


A breathtaking evening of community-building and philanthropy, the 37th Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada Gala – Teddy Bear Affair lived up to its promise as a celebration of Indigenous culture, honouring the resilience and experiences of young people from the child welfare system.

Raising $1.83 million the event, held November 4, 2023, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, brought together more than 700 philanthropists, business leaders, youth advocates and government representatives – including Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Toronto’s Mayor Olivia Chow and the Honorable Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, for a night of truth-telling and fundraising.

This year’s Gala was produced in collaboration with the Indigenous Spirit Fund at Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, a Foundation first. Envisioned through the lens of Indigenous Futurism, the Morning Star, a stunning design created by Dene artist Megan Currie that symbolizes hope and protection, was everywhere throughout the room. At the same time, the sounds of Strong Water Singers alongside Indigenous dancers filled the air with celebratory sounds. ICYMI here are a few of the evening’s highlights.

The host with the most

Sarain Fox, dancer, model choreographer and activist, was a charismatic and compassionate host. With at least four outfit changes, she charmed the room, sharing stories from her own life as an Indigenous creator and mother and fangirling over Cindy Blackstock and the young performers.

Gala Host Sarain Fox dazzles on stage.
Gala Host Sarain Fox dazzles on stage.

Youth ambassadors share their truth

Molly (oafucus), Julianna, and IYOJA, three young Indigenous women, provided moving testimonials using song and spoken word, sharing their experiences as young people formerly in government care. Their presentations were deeply personal and moving, touching on love, loss, and perseverance. Their courage and vulnerability moved the audience to their feet for a sustained standing ovation.

Youth ambassadors with Dr. Cindy Blackstock
Youth ambassadors with Dr. Cindy Blackstock

All that glitters

The Teddy Bear raffle, a Gala tradition, added its usual sparkle to the evening with three dazzling pieces of jewelry donated by long-time supporter Royal de Versailles. The lucky winners, Nancy, Craig, and Sean, walked away with their adorable Gund teddy bears (donated by Spin Master) and newly treasured keepsakes.

Volunteer Raffle Sellers at their booth
Staff and Volunteer Raffle Sellers at their booth

A call to action from our Honorary Chairs

The Foundation was honoured to have activist and advocate Dr. Cindy Blackstock in the room and a video message from former Prime Minister, The Right Honorable Paul Martin. In his message to guests, Mr. Martin, Founder of the Martin Family Initiative, asked guests to try to meet with those on the frontlines working to improve outcomes for Indigenous communities. Dr. Blackstock, recently awarded the World Children’s Prize, took to the stage, asking the guest audience to contact their government officials and advocate for Indigenous youth across the country.

Honourary Gala Chair Dr. Cindy Blackstock on stage
Honorary Gala Chair Dr. Cindy Blackstock on stage

Auction spotlights Indigenous creators

This year’s silent auction included a raft of luxury items from hotel stays, Air Canada business class flights to Toronto Raptors box suite, and artworks from several Indigenous creators. Artworks ranged from beaded jewelry to modern pop art paintings, as well as pieces from Born in the North owned by twin brothers Greg and Chris Mitchell.

This year’s auction featured several Indigenous artworks including one with from Hamilton’s Dope Chief.
This year’s auction featured several Indigenous artworks including one with from Hamilton’s Dope Chief.

Play that tune

The evening ended with music from uRequest Live. After an impactful evening that included Indigenous-inspired cuisine and local wines, guests danced the rest of the night away.

Thank you

An incredible amount of hard work goes into executing the Foundation Gala. We are grateful for their ongoing commitment to creating better outcomes for the communities our Foundation serves. Also, we must extend a special thanks to this year’s Gala Chairs, Jamie Watt, Nitin Jain, and Sean St. John, for their tireless efforts in making this evening a resounding success.

This great and essential evening would not even have been possible without our Sponsors:

Patron Sponsors

  • BMO
  • National Bank

Gold Sponsors

  • AMJ Campbell
  • Desjardins
  • RBC
  • The Slaight Family Foundation

Silver Sponsors

  • Birch Hill Equity Partners
  • CI Financial
  • ECN Capital
  • Generation Capital
  • Peter Gilgan Foundation
  • Sagen
  • TMX Shorcan
  • Sienna Senior Living
  • State
  • TD

Bronze Sponsors

  • AON
  • AtkinsRéalis
  • Definity Insurance Company
  • Delaney Family Foundation
  • Deloitte
  • Element Fleet Management
  • Fasken
  • Hansell McLaughlin Advisory Group
  • HSBC Bank Canada
  • JP Morgan
  • Maple Leaf Foods
  • McCarthy Tétrault
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Navigator
  • Scotiabank

Gift in Kind Donors

  • Almost Live Auction Sponsor: Air Canada Foundation
  • Wine Partner: Giampaolo Group Inc.
  • Print Media Partner: National Post
  • Teddy Bear Raffle Partner: Royal de Versailles
  • Print Partner: TPH

Thank you to everyone who made this night a resounding success. Your support means the world to us, and it is a testament to the power of compassion and unity in creating a brighter future for families, children, and youth.