"Simple Plan have taken a leadership role not only by improving the lives of others, but by setting an example for their peers to follow. With this in mind, I am proud to present the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award to Simple Plan,” said Ali Slaight, granddaughter of broadcasting mogul and philanthropist Allan Slaight, before inviting the Montreal pop-rock band onstage at the Canadian Music Industry & Broadcasting Awards in Toronto to accept the honour. Mark Kielburger, co-founder of Free The Children, also said a few words.
A video tribute played that includes congratulatory messages and testimonials from people in the music industry and from charities and non-profits.
Fittingly, Pierre Bouvier then sang “This Song Saved My Life” on acoustic guitar. The new single/video from the band’s most recent album, 2011’s Get Your Heart On!, was written based on Twitter responses Comeau received from fans after asking them what Simple Plan’s music meant to them. An earlier video of the same song was released last November with a hard-hitting message about sweatshops and child slavery for MTV Exit’s End Exploitation and Trafficking campaign, in partnership with USAID, AusAID and Walk Free.
Then Bouvier, drummer Chuck Comeau, guitarists Jeff Stinco and Sébastien Lefebvre (bassist David Desrosiers wasn't in attendance) told the sold-out crowd of music industry peers what prompted them to start The Simple Plan Foundation. In the video, it mentioned that Bouvier’s brother, Jay, had been diagnosed with cancer in 2005 (he received a bone marrow transplant thanks to older brother Jonathan and was declared cancer free in 2007), but it was actually another family member that was the catalyst.
“Thank you to the Slaight family, to Canadian Music Week, for recognizing the work that we’ve done with the Simple Plan Foundation. It’s an incredible honour and we couldn’t be more proud to be here, tonight with all of you to receive this award,” said Bouvier. “Now, how about a little bit of honesty here?
“When we were kids, we didn’t dream of one day winning the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award or any humanitarian award for that matter — sorry Mr. Slaight — we didn’t have pictures of famous philanthropists on our bedroom walls. Our bedrooms were plastered with Guns N’ Roses, Bad Religion and blink-182 posters.
“We had a dream of one day being rock stars, up on stage at Rock In Rio in front of 150,000 people, touring the world, winning Junos and Grammys, and then that dream started to come true for us. Our first record came out in 2002 and sold 3 million copies around the world, and then by 2005 our second record was certified four times platinum in Canada. We were selling out our hometown arena for the first time. We were just about to go on tour with Metallica in South Africa, so things were pretty awesome.”
Comeau then takes over at the mic to finish the story.
“And then one my dad picks me up for lunch. So I’m thinking he’s going to be all stoked and tell me how proud he is. I was feeling pretty good about myself, but actually he goes, ‘I think you guys are not doing enough. I think you’re missing out on a big chance to do something here. I think you need to start thinking about your legacy and start to think about how you want to be remembered as a band, and that it’s the perfect time to start your own foundation.’ — not exactly what I was expecting to hear after all the stuff that is happening, all the great success,” Comeau admits.
“Basically, it stuck in our heads and we starting thinking about the idea. And we started thinking about all the letters and stories that we heard from our fans — that without music, they wouldn’t be here today, that it helped them to deal with their parents’ divorce, their depression, getting bullied at school, having cancer at 15 years old, that music was all that they had, that music really saved their lives. That’s when it kind of hit us and we realized how lucky and privileged we were. While so many people were struggling, we were living out our dreams.
“Even more importantly we realized that we had the power to help these people to go through these tough times. My dad was right; we could actually do a lot more…”
And so The Simple Plan Foundation was born, formed in 2005. It raises funds through the band’s concerts ($1 for every ticket sold) and other events and merchandise sales (from t-shirts to books), and to date has donated more than $1 million to various charities dedicated to helping young people, mostly with serious illnesses or from impoverished or difficult circumstances.
The recipients are numerous and include CN’s Miracle Match program supporting pediatric care; Make-a-Wish and Children’s Wish Foundations, dedicated to bringing joy to terminally ill children and teens; Dr. Julien Foundation, supporting the Garage à Musique project for troubled youth to practice music; Le Garde-Manger Pour Tous, promoting healthy eating habits for the underprivileged; Leucan, offering support to children with cancer and their families; as well as War Child Canada, Kids Help Phone, Fondation Portage, Fondation Les Auberges du Coeur, The Lighthouse – Children and Families, St-Justine Hospital, GRIS, The Montréal Children’s Hospital and more.
Watch the new video for "This Song Saved My Life" below:
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