By Michele Henry
Ryerson students will sit among the 1,200 guests who will attend the Nov. 17 ceremony at the Ryerson Theatre to honour Nelson Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, for their efforts to aid underprivileged children in South Africa.
A block of 100 tickets to the gala has been given to RyeSAC. Odelia Bay, RyeSAC president, said this will guarantee that some of the sought-after tickets will “fall into the hands of Ryerson full-time and graduate students.”
A portion of the allotted tickets has been set aside for members of campus groups — such as Ryerson’s African Caribbean Association — that deal with issues related to the work of Mandela and Machel. A draw will be held to distribute the remaining tickets fairly.
Mandela will begin his day Nov. 17 alongside his wife at the ceremony to rename Park Public School in Regent Park to Nelson Mandela Park Public School. The couple will then be whisked to Ryerson where they will each receive an honorary doctorate of laws.
On Oct. 30 the CEOs of Indigo Books & Music, CanWest Global Communications Corp., RBC Financial Group and the president of the Canadian Auto Workers Union, launched a national campaign to fundraise $1 million for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Mandela and Machel’s visit to Canada will mark the culmination of the drive. Corporate giants Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman will host a $5,000-a-couple dinner on the eve of Nov. 17 at their home in Mandela’s honour. All proceeds will go the fund. After their whirlwind visit to Toronto, Mandela and Machel will fly to Ottawa where he will receive an honorary Canadian citizenship on Nov. 19. Mandela founded the Children’s fund in 1994 to help children in South Africa.
Gordon Cressy, Ryerson’s v.p. university advancement, who sits on the board of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, said he “believes passionately in the cause” of the fund, but adds that the campaign is “completely separate from Ryerson.”
Students can enter the draw by e-mailing RyeSAC with their phone number and student number or by dropping the information at the office. Deadline is Friday, Nov. 9 at 5 p.m.