December 15, 2022 (Toronto, ON) – Canadian Music Week is pleased to announce Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye has received the 2022 CMW Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award in recognition of his longstanding commitment to charitable initiatives. The CMW Allan Slaight Humanitarian Award is presented to a Canadian artist, duo or group, in recognition of their social activism and benevolent support of humanitarian interests and causes. As recipient of this Award, The Slaight Family Foundation will make a donation of $50,000 towards a charity of Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s choosing.
“That this is a Canadian award sits deep with me. Allan and The Slaight Family Foundation are known across the country for their generous philanthropy, and it means a lot to be acknowledged, and is an honour to be recognized along with the legendary Canadian artists who received this award before me,” said Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye.
Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye is the first musician to receive both the Allan Slaight Impact Award, and the CMW Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye received the Allan Slaight Impact honour at Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2014, which is presented to a remarkable musician, duo or group that continues to make a positive impact with their talent and benevolence in the field of music.
“The global success of Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye makes every Canadian proud. What Abel has done with his success is something that we can be doubly proud of–and this is to improve the lives of people in need, in Canada and around the world. His altruism, in a word, is exemplary,” says Gary Slaight, CEO of The Slaight Family Foundation. “Throughout his professional life, my father, Allan Slaight, made it a family mission to ensure our financial accomplishments were used to improve our community and beyond. Abel’s support of organizations, foundations and initiatives working to make the world a better place aligns with my father’s desire to do the same. In recognition of his philanthropy, Abel Tesfaye is admirably deserving of the 2022 CMW Allan Slaight Humanitarian Award and on behalf of myself and our family we honour him for his charitableness, humanness and unspoken kindnesses.”
“With great popularity comes great responsibility, as far as the Weeknd is concerned,” Canadian Music Week president Neill Dixon said. “When he ruled the stage at the Super Bowl half-time show, he didn’t simply represent proud Canadians in front of a global audience, he was a true citizen of the world. And he lives that role offstage as well, with philanthropic activities almost too numerous to count. Social issues, humanitarian relief, food security, cultural and language preservation. It takes a person of principle to see the big global picture and imagine numerous ways they can pay their blessings forward and create change. CMW is proud to be associated with Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye and we applaud the recognition he is receiving today.”
Throughout his career, Abel “The Weeknd’ Tesfaye has donated over 3.7 million dollars to important causes and has used his massive platform to speak out and take action on pressing social issues. In 2012, Tesfaye was honoured with the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award at the inaugural Music in Action Awards.
In 2014 Tesfaye donated $50,000 to the University of Toronto to fund a new course on Ge’ez, an ancient language of Ethiopia. In 2016 he then funded a new Ethiopian studies program at the University of Toronto, and gave $50,000 to the St. Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, a church he attended growing up in Toronto. In 2017, Tesfaye donated $100,000 to the Suubi Health Center, a maternity and children’s medical facility in Uganda.
In 2016 Tesfaye donated over $250,000 to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. In 2020, Tesfaye donated $500,000 to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp, and the National Bail Out. He then urged other music executives, major record labels, and streaming services to donate to the cause as well.
In 2020, Tesfaye launched a line of non-medical face masks with all proceeds going to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund. In addition, Tesfaye donated $500,000 to MusiCares and $500,000 to the Scarborough Health Network.
In August 2020, Tesfaye held “the Weeknd Experience”, an interactive virtual concert on TikTok that raised over $350,000 for the Equal Justice Initiative. He also donated $300,000 to Global Aid for Lebanon in support of victims of the Beirut explosion.
In 2021 Tesfaye announced a $1,000,000 donation through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to relief efforts in Ethiopia for people affected by the Tigray War. He met with the United States Agency for International Development to discuss the humanitarian crisis of the Tigray War and Tesfaye was then appointed as a UN Goodwill Ambassador for the World Food Programme. He also partnered with the WFP to launch the XO Humanitarian Fund where Tesfaye will donate $1 from every ticket sold at his 2022 After Hours til Dawn Tour, in addition to a $500,000 donation to the WFP.
Each year, Slaight Communications and Canadian Music Week awards an outstanding Canadian artist, in recognition of their contribution to social activism and support of humanitarian causes. Previous CMW Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award recipients include Buffy Sainte-Marie, Gord Downie, Arcade Fire, RUSH, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk & Raine Maida, Simple Plan, Bruce Cockburn, Bryan Adams and Nelly Furtado.