Freedom Tour Report - Kingston
First of all, congratulations to Toronto on an outstanding success. We have heard various accounts, including from our guests when they arrived yesterday with great praise for how well it had gone on their first stop. And good luck to Ottawa today with your events.
Rogerio Santana from the Consulate in Toronto drove our three guests to Kingston so we had the pleasure of his company for lunch. Aleida, Irma and Mario were greeted first by the manager of the Holiday Inn who is a great friend of Cuba and who had provided them with complementary accommodation in the "best room in the house," the St. Lawrence Suite, where Princess Anne slept when she was here recently. Aleida thought it was pretty cool to sleep in the same bed that royalty had.
A special session for lawyers was held at Queen's in the early afternoon. It was lightly attended as, apparently, some other function had drawn away the majority of Law students. Those present were very attentive to the presentation which included an introduction to the case of the Five by Mary Ann Higgs, CCFA member and Kingston lawyer, the Weinglass video, a presentation by Aleida and Irma and questions.
A small reception followed to which we had invited Kingston Mayor Isabel Turner who was unable to come as she had a prior engagement with the Canadian Idol, Ryan Malcolm. One has one's priorities! The deputy Mayor came in her stead.
Having sent the press kit to several of the local media both in the city and on campus, we were disappointed when only a reporter from the Kingston Whig Standard showed up for a scheduled press conference. However, we did get a good-sized article in the Local News section of the Whig today with the attention-grabbing title of "Help us to break the silence"- Che Guevara's daughter asks for support in freeing U.S.-held Cubans. Despite a few factual errors, it is a helpful and positive piece.
The evening public talk was held in the 800- seat auditorium of KCVI, Ontario's oldest highschool, right on Queen's campus. The lineup at the door began at 6PM for a 7PM event. By 6:30, when we opened the doors, the line stretched out the door and down the street. In total, we probably had about 650 in the audience, many students but people of other ages as well. The response to the presentation was thrilling. People wanted to know how to help. Many signed the petition and some want to have the petition available on campus. A large amount of money was collected when we passed the hat. ( Admission was free ).
A local bookstore sold Ocean Press' Che Quevara Reader, did very well, and will share the profits with CCFA. We also sold some of the Cuba issue of Canadian Dimension magazine. Many people attending wished aloud that we had had some Cuba "paraphanalia" for sale ( and I did too! ). We had the Globe & Mail CNC ad printed 4 to a page and so had these handy little leaflets to give out. Might see a lot of hits on the CNC website.
We were quite successful getting endorsements for the tour which was supportive both to the cause and to the CCFA coffers.
The evening ended with a late but relaxing and enjoyable dinner where Aleida entertained us with her great sense of humour and lovely singing. In fact, the group left the restaurant singing a rousing Cuban song.
Best wishes for success to the remaining cities and groups!
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