Abel “The Weeknd’ Tesfaye has been named the 2022 recipient of the Canadian Music Week (CMW) Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award in recognition of his longstanding commitment to charitable initiatives.
Slaight Communications and CMW annually bestow the award on a Canadian artist, in recognition of their contribution to social activism and support of humanitarian causes. The Slaight Family Foundation will make a donation of $50,000 towards a charity of Tesfaye’s choosing.
Over the past few years, Tesfaye has donated over $8.3 million to numerous causes, including 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. A UN Goodwill Ambassador for the World Food Programme, he also partnered with the WFP to launch the XO Humanitarian Fund where Tesfaye donated $1 from every ticket sold at his 2022 After Hours til Dawn Tour, in addition to a $500,000 donation to the WFP. $5 million dollars was generated from the first leg of his sold-out North American tour for the fund.
In August 2020, Tesfaye staged “the Weeknd Experience“, an interactive virtual concert on TikTok that raised over $350,000 for the Equal Justice Initiative. He’s also made sizeable donations to Global Aid for Lebanon in support of victims of the Beirut explosion; the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation; Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp; the National Bail Out; MusiCares; the Scarborough Health Network; Suubi Health Center, a maternity and children’s medical facility in Uganda; the University of Toronto to fund a new course on Ge’ez, an ancient language of Ethiopia; and St. Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which he attended growing up in Toronto.
Tesfaye was previously the recipient of the Allan Slaight Impact Award in 2014 and is the first artist to receive both honours. In 2021, the four-time Grammy winner was honoured with the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award at the inaugural Music in Action Awards.
“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,” said Gary Slaight, President and CEO of The Slaight Family Foundation, in a CMW announcement. “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,” added Canadian Music Week President Neill Dixon. “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.”
In the same release, Tesfaye said it was an honour to be recognized alongside the award’s previous recipients, who include Buffy Sainte-Marie, Gord Downie, Arcade Fire, RUSH, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk & Raine Maida, Simple Plan, Bruce Cockburn, Bryan Adams and Nelly Furtado.
“That this is a Canadian award sits deep with me,” said Tesfaye. “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.”
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