By: Bill Brooks
The 63rd Annual B’Nai Brith Dinner held Nov. 27 at the Beth Tzedec Synagogue saw more than 700 guests attend to congratulate this year’s honourees — Alfred Balm and Senator and Lt.-Gen. (Ret’d) Romeo Dallaire and to salute Lee Richardson on being awarded the Ben Doktor Award.
Past honourees at the prestigious dinner read like a who’s who, including: Gordie Hoffman, Q.C.; Lanny McDonald; Ken King; Frank Sisson; Ralph Klein; Art Smith; Phil Libin; Ron Ghitter; Gail Asper; and Harley Hotchkiss, to name but a few.
Balm’s list of accomplishments is nothing short of astounding and includes interests in dozens of companies around the world — not the least of which is his role as chairman and owner of Emergo Group — an international investment firm. Yet it is his extraordinary generosity — much of it anonymous — that garnered Balm the prestigious recognition from B’Nai Brith Calgary Lodge No. 816. Whether the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Regimental Society and The Poppy Fund to the Veteran’s Foodbank and the Calgary Drop-In Centre, Balm’s significant support to myriad organizations has changed thousands of lives for the better.
Dallaire is one of our country’s most celebrated humanitarians. He is the founder of the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative — an organization aimed at eradicating the use of child soldiers; an outspoken advocate for human rights, particularly war-affected children, women, First Nations and military veterans; a champion of genocide prevention initiatives and nuclear non-proliferation; and a bestselling author.
Among the 700-plus guests in attendance this night were: better half of Alfred Balm, his fabulous and stunning wife Phyllis and their two sons Roger and Mike and their wives Lana and Sherri; Aron Eichler and his son, Creative Outlet’s Jeff Eichler; Soup Sister founder Sharon Hapton and her husband Brass Monocle’s Garry Hapton; dinner committee co-chair Joel Grotsky; Mayor Naheed Nenhsi and his chief of staff Chima Nkemdirim; Calgary Herald editor-in-chief Lorne Motley; Hotel Arts’ Mark Wilson and Simon Chamberlin; honourary master of ceremonies Lou Pomerance; the Met Centre’s Howard Silver; Century 21’s Darrell Nowosad; Royal Le Page’s Darren Abrahamson; Prostate Cancer Canada Network Calgary executive director Bob Shiell; WestJet’s Richard Bartrem and Yehudi Altman; ahead-turners Penny Smith and Mandy Smith-Haber; Councillor Andre Chabot; brothers Dr. Stuart Yaholnitsky and Dr. Bruce Yaholnitsky; and media legend Darrel Janz in the role of MC this night.