Saskatoon women’s groups applauded the cancellation of a controversial charity fundraiser on Thursday — but one participant said criticism of the event, which featured women gyrating in lingerie, was unfair.
The president of the Saskatoon Women’s Community Coalition said she’s “very pleased” the downtown Saskatoon chapter of the Canadian Progress Club has, “listened to the community, that they are moving with the times.”
“I look forward to seeing what they could do in the future for fundraising,” said Pat Peever, adding the decision, “has done wonders for our community.”
The club cancelled the annual event, which was held for the 36th time on Friday, following criticism from the community.
But Nicole Arbour, an Ontario comedian who helped MC the event, said the criticism was unfair. She commended everyone involved.
“It wasn’t the most tactful thing… but there was nothing wrong with what they did,” Arbour said, noting the event raised $90,000 for local charities.
The club said the Boys Lunch Out, “has raised a mixed reaction in the community, with many people strongly against it.
“This recent attention has served to highlight that some events no longer have a place in today’s society,” the men’s service club said on Facebook on Thursday.
“When it becomes clear that a charity event doesn’t match our community’s ethos, our club discontinues it.”
The mostly male audience paid up to $3,675 per table for the show and for perks such as better views of the models and drink tickets.
A related event the night before allowed VIPs “one-on-one” time with models in a secret location.
Most charities interviewed said they had no idea funds were being raised this way in their name, and one of them, the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, said it would return the club’s $25,000 donation.
National body urges review
The cancellation follows a call from the club’s national body to review all fundraising practices.
“We need to be mindful of the values they reflect and messages they send,” the Canadian Progress Club said in a statement.
The Saskatoon chapter’s statement, which was not signed by any specific member, says the club will always focus on local charities. New events are being planned to replace the Boys Lunch Out, it said.
“Some of these exciting new events have already been in the works for months.
“We will gladly keep you updated on the review of our fundraising practices and on the progress of our new events. We are proud to be members of the Canadian Progress Club, proud members of the community, and we want our partners to feel proud to work with us.”