Speech for receiving ICRF Humanitarian Award

Thank you David for your generous remarks.

I should put David's comments about me in context - my mother insisted on helping him prepare his speech.

As you have witnessed, she prevailed.

Again, thank you David and thanks mom, who is here tonight after celebrating her 88th birthday this weekend with our family.

Many people worked very hard to make this event such a huge success and I want to express my appreciation.

To the Honourable Frank McKenna who along with Robert Stanfeild is one of the best Prime
Ministers we never had. To the chairs and all of the Committee members, the staff and volunteers at ICRF. To the Sponsors of tonight’s event, and to each and everyone of you in attendance, words cannot adequately express the appreciation I feel. Todah Rabba. To those who may be concerned that all of this attention will go to my head, rest assured that tomorrow I will be humbled yet again when I take my poor excuse for a dog, Rollie, who is a 2 year old, 75 lb Weimaraner for his morning constitution. He is a scavenger so I will be pulling Lord knows what out of his mouth and be on the receiving end to pick up what has been digested.

David Williams has articulated the many successes I have enjoyed.

For me, the greatest reward has been the development, growth and success of the individuals I have mentored throughout my career. I am delighted that many of them are here tonight. Also, my success must be attributed to the people who have been my mentors. So many have helped me and time does not permit me to pay tribute to all however I will highlight a few, Mildred MacIntosh, now Mildred Caldwell, was my home room secondary school teacher. She understood what is now known as Attention Deficit Order.

Back then there were less charitable terminologies for this, and certainly no means to diagnose or support it. Yet here was a true professional who, whether by instinct or experience, was able to work with me and help me progress though the system. She taught me how to learn.

In progressing me threw the system perhaps there may have been an ulterior motive in that she could not endure having to deal with me for an additional year.

Dr. R. C. Quittenton affectingly known as [Dr Q.], the founding President of St. Clair College of Applied Arts and Technology who, when I was President of Student Government there, coached me on the fundamentals of Leadership, the power of listening and visioning the future. Dr Q. also encouraged me and so many others to think large and outside any barriers or boundaries.

Norman Wheeler, whom I first worked for at Chrysler and who took a young punk and instilled a principle that you don't have to be nasty to be tough. That toughness is to have resolve, and compromise by accepting compelling arguments is not inconsistent with having resolve. Robert McCutcheon, retired Executive Vice President of Loblaw's, who took me under his wing shortly after I joined and made me a Vice President at the tender age of 29 - exactly 29 years ago.

He helped me understand that you can learn something from everyone who you come into contact with. It has proved so valuable especially when I worked in Operations as some of the best ideas came from people who actually did the work, and by engaging people at every level in an organization, is an incredible motivator.

David Williams, Chair of Shoppers and who was the CEO of the Eastern Canada Division of Loblaw during the period it progressed from a market laggard to a market leader. David led by example and proved that values based leadership is not a fad or a style because it is substantive, effective and gives people a sense of purpose in what leaders call on them to do. John Lederer, former President of Loblaw. Back when we were peers we taught each other how to give open, honest and constructive feedback. This was an important learning for me, like may others I felt that providing this type of feedback it would jeopardize friendships when in fact it strengths them.

Glenn Murphy, most recently Chair and CEO of Shoppers, who was my only boss who was younger than I, I must admit, I was not all that easy on him, and we went through some intergenerational issues. He on more than a few occasions had to remind me who worked for who.

At the end of the day however I think he finally figured it out. Seriously to end my working career as part of his team was an incredible experience helping make a good company great.

I have had the opportunity to know the best and the brightest in the Retail Industry globally, and my assessment is that as true merchants, Glen and John rank right up there as the best and the brightest.

And My late father Casper Cornelious Faas who my 4 brothers and I are so proud of. He made us understand that single acts of courage can help define a Nation. In the early sixties he opened up a one chair barbershop in Dresden, Ontario.

Dresden was the end of the underground Railway and home of Joshua Henson, whose life was portrayed in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Toms Cabin. 

It had and still has a large Black population and when my Dad opened up his shop bigotry and
discrimination were still existed. Notwithstanding that it could jeopardize his livelihood, he was the only white barber out of five in the town to invite black clientele. Because it was the right thing to do.

This one individual act combined with thousands of others by others helped Canada to evolve to a model of multiculturalism, where the rights of all, regardless of race, colour, religion and lifestyle, are respected and protected.

Like all of its citizens, Canada is not perfect, however what it continues to perfect is making right the wrongs of the past. Mahatma Gandhi wrote "Faith must be enforced by reason. When faith becomes blind it dies." The same can be said for Hope. Hope without reason is blind. Hope without reason will die.

Today, people who are diagnosed with Cancer can dare hope. Hope that is not blind. Hope because there is reason. And the reason is the work and perseverance of the Scientists and researchers, many of whom are supported by the ICRF, and people like my fellow honouree tonight, Dr. Melvin Freedman.

By honouring Dr Freedman we also recognize all of his colleagues here and in Israel, people who are in the forefront of the medical advancements, but all too often in the background when it comes to public recognition. This became evident to me in December when I met Dr. Eli Cananni who spent over 20 years leading the research which led to the development of Gleevec. 

The amazing fact is after over 6 years of saving peoples lives with this wonder drug, I was the first person Dr. Cananni met who is on the drug. This suggests we must do so much more to show our appreciation and provide motivational support for what these people have done and continue to do.

Everyone in this room, everyone you know and everyone they know, is or will be a direct and / or indirect beneficiary of this work. I am a direct beneficiary and have come to realize how much I have taken for granted; the reason

I can dare hope.

What we can all do is encourage everyone to not to take it for granted and do what they can to keep hope alive.

March 4th 2004, the day I was diagnosed with leukaemia, I now regard as the best day of my life. 

First, because I could dare hope, hope that was not blind, hope because there was reason.

Second, is that this forced me to reflect on the reason for being.

That day I cut a deal with the Almighty, that if I were made better, I would become a better person.

I was made better and I continue to work on becoming that better person.

On hearing that I was being recognized by the ICRF many have commented that they did not realize I was Jewish.

My response is I did not realize it either.

I was raised a Protestant, however, I do not belong to any organized religion.

Today Religion for me is how I try to live my life.

Throughout my life I have attempted to work and live in the background as I am a very private

Tonight’s gala is a very public event, with very public exposure.

While I am uncomfortable with this, what gives me comfort is the realization that my story may inspire others to live life to the fullest and do what they can do to help others and keep hope alive.

I am so honoured by this incredible recognition. However, when I test the criteria for being so recognized I assert that I fall short against so many others who are far more deserving.

My role in most of the groups that I have supported is simply writing a cheque. As my business partner and great friend Lee Wells put it when I asked out of frustration what role I played in the running of our design business, his quick reply was "You pay beautifully."

There is no question that while providing financial support is necessary, it is clearly not sufficient. I am fortunate because I can provide this support, and I believe as Bill Clinton said and as I was taught by my parents, “If you can, you must."

Also, I cannot characterize this support as a sacrifice when I compare it to the true sacrifice and personal contribution of time, expertise and emotion that is provided by the many thousands of volunteers and staff of the various groups I support. And in some instances, as in the case of Drs

Without Borders, they do so in harm’s way. My role pales by comparison. Given that, my friends, you will do me a greater honour tonight by permitting me to accept this award on behalf of those many volunteers and employees.

Thank you for allowing me to bask in this glory, I will savour it until tomorrow when I take Rollie out for his morning constitution.

Thank you, and Shalom.