Christmas came a few days before Halloween. On October 25, we got to witness our amazing partners in action at our 22nd birthday party and annual fall fundraiser: The Masquerade, where we raised over $85,000 to fight youth homelessness.

Including the $34,000 raised during our 10 Days of Giving campaign in September, this brings our fall fundraising total close to $120,000!

This means that the crew who started with us in October will be secure for the next twelve months while they work, learn, and play in Whistler. It means we’ve been able to hire three permanent staff. And it means that we will be able to grow the program in meaningful ways and lead the charge in the fight against youth homelessness. (Read the Royal Roads University 2018 Report on Work 2 Live to learn more).

And this means we’ve got some thanks you’s to get through.

close-up of a woman in a mask looking to her right. Text reads: thank you to our guests who helped us raise $85,000 in one night.

150 guests dressed helped us raise over $85,000 in a single evening.

The Guests

150 guests donned masks, costumes, and assorted finery to celebrate with us at the Squamish Líl’wat Cultural Centre’s exhibition space. Thank you to everyone who made it out!

The past 22 years have only been possible because we have people like you who come to our events and engage with our cause. Thank you for contributing to such a fun night and for your donations and purchases that helped us raise $85,000.

Special shout out to some of our major donors who surprised us with amazing generous contributions:

  • The Restaurant Association of Whistler donated $10,000 at the event.
  • Jon Dietrich, the President at Couloir Management and Zero Ceiling Board Member, donated $20,000.
  • Andy Szochs donated $20,000.

You legends have paid for two youth’s spots for an entire year. Thank you!

The Space

Our partnership with the Squamish Líl’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) started when they generously sponsored our 20th Anniversary celebration in October 2017. Wanting to do something special to celebrate such an important anniversary, we were excited to host our fundraiser in their gorgeous event space—considered one of the best wedding venues in Whistler.

The SLCC is a must-see Whistler attraction, and an important cornerstone of our community. It opened in 2008 to showcase the unique culture, history, and art of the Squamish and Líl’wat First Nations, on whose shared, unceded territories Whistler stands. Far more than a venue, the SLCC houses a museum with permanent and seasonal exhibitions exploring the history and culture of the local First Nations. Their knowledgeable Cultural Ambassadors lead hourly guided tours of the museum, sharing their knowledge with locals and visitors alike. They also run a fantastic Gallery and Gift Shop featuring unique First Nations clothing, jewelery, artwork, and more.

Over the last two years, our partnership with the SLCC has gone from strength to strength. Not only did they once again generously donate their venue for The Masquerade in 2018, Executive Director Brady Smith also pledged $20,000 to support Indigenous young people taking part in the Work 2 Live program.

Two Indigenous Canadian men are hand drumming and singing. Text reads: Thank you to the SLCC.

The SLCC is a beautiful place full of beautiful people. Kukwstuckāl’ap.

This year, two of our Work 2 Live program participants took part in the SLCC’s Indigenous Youth Ambassador  (IYA) Program. This immersive, comprehensive program provides training, mentorship, and certification for Indigenous youth who want to learn the foundations of business. Students develop skills for working in the tourism sector, as well as certifications like Food Safe, First Aid, and Serving it Right. They also receive professional development support, mentorship from cultural elders, and learn how to represent and speak about their Nations.

The IYA Program is a perfect fit for Indigenous youth in our Work 2 Live program. We were excited to be able to offer this opportunity to our participants, alongside the supportive employment we offer through Whistler Blackcomb. It gave them a chance to try a range of different roles in tourism, to connect with other Indigenous young people, and to engage with First Nations culture and their own history.

Brady has also personally been a champion of ours this year, supplying advice, time, energy, and friendship. He delivered one of his signature welcome speeches that set the right tone for the events to come.

Líl’wat artist and SLCC Cultural Ambassador Q̓awām (Redmond Andrews), accompanied by Wendall Williams honoured the space and the event with an opening song and ceremony.

And of course, thank you to the wonderful SLCC event staff who took care of our guests and made sure the event ran safely and smoothly and that nobody’s glass ever went dry.

We raise our hands to the SLCC staff for their hard work and dedication to helping us improve the lives of youth experiencing homelessness.

The Goods

a woman serves another woman a glass of locally made kombucha. text reads: thank you to sponsors for the silent auction, wine wall, food, and drink.

There were too many sponsors and vendors to count, but we appreciate each one of you.

A HUGE thank you to all the event sponsors and partners, who donated time, money, products, and services so that we can make every penny stretch.

We won’t be able to mention them all, but click this link for a list of silent auction donors who gave us the goods that helped us raise $85,000 in one fantastic night.

We managed to get over 50 bottles of wine and champagne donated to us that we sold for $25 each at our mystery wine wall. The bottles ranged in value from $25 and up, so guests were guaranteed to walk away happy.

evo has once again matched our new monthly donations up to $5,000, which, thanks to our Masquerade guests, we have been able to maximize this year. That’s $10,000 over the course of 2020. Thank you evo and new monthly donors!

The Fun

a woman paints purple and silver flowers on another woman's face. text reads: thank you to our entertainment and photography sponsors.

Thanks to some incredibly talented artists for sponsoring the fun at The Masquerade.

Fundraising aside, our other goal was to throw an awesome party. Thanks to the following sponsors for making that happen:

  • Jenna Mae and The Groove Section are Whistler royalty at this point. They are a talented bunch, and they had our guests on their toes dancing the night away. Thank you!
  • Nina Moore from Paint on People donated her amazing talents and time so that everyone got to feel pretty and no one felt left out if they hadn’t worn a mask or costume. The photos definitely speak for themselves.
  • Speaking of photos, Chris Starck at Coast Mountain Photography sponsored The Masquerade for the third year in a row. They managed to capture the evening in a way that really shows how special the event and the people were. Danke schön.
  • 10 local food vendors and restaurants donated delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks, as well as the time and staffing to make sure our guests had enough energy to make it to the end of the party. See a list of our food and drink sponsors here. Muchos gracias mi amigos y amigas.

The People

We said it at every opportunity on the night, but thank you to all of the volunteers and people who made it possible to run such an incredible event. We honestly could not do it without knowing we have such giving and big-hearted people behind us.

Thank you to Dakota Williams. Dakota works with Whistler Blackcomb, is a Work 2 Live grad, and also a Zero Ceiling Director. Everyone at The Masquerade got to watch “We Choose Our Dreams”, an inspirational short documentary that features Dakota’s journey from Vancouver to the mountains. The film was made by Whistler Blackcomb for their Choose To Be series. It was very special to see and hear what his experiences in Whistler have meant to him, and he got to celebrate with his whole family who were there that night. You can watch the video on our homepage.

Thank you to Jordan. Jordan is a recent Work 2 Live grad who also shared his experiences at the event in an emotional speech. We are so proud of you!

Our Fundraising Committee are absolute BAMFs, and continue to amaze us. They’ve put in hours of work in planning, writing cards, decorating, soliciting donations, and wrapping wine bottles (not easy to do). We love you and everything you do!

Our event volunteers: whether The Masquerade was your first event, or whether you’ve been with us longer than some of the staff have been, you give us faith in a faithless world. We hope to see you around again.

Thank you to the Zero Ceiling Family. Sean and Chris: our captains, our rock, our family. Lizi, who runs the show (and we all know it). Rhianna and Laura, who just joined us this fall, but who we already can’t imagine being without. The Board of Directors, who are there every step of the way, sharing our story and making us seem like know what we’re doing. Chris Winter, whose crazy idea this was in the first place.

And the Work 2 Live crew, who deserve it all and more.

Thank you.

Love, Zero Ceiling