About Last Night with Fred Lee: Photos from the Back on Track and Mission Possible Galas

A policeman's ball and a 1920s speakeasy celebrate years of helping.

March 8, 2018

By Fred Lee, @FredAboutTown

Back on Track Gala

The Idea
With a video camera in hand and a desire to make a short film on the realities of drugs and the drug addicted, off-duty Vancouver police officers Al Arsenault and Toby Hinton set out to make Through a Blue Lens to start a conversation and inspire kids to make positive life choices.

The Results
Their debut film would be seen by thousands of students, and Odd Squad Productions was born. Since 1997, the society has produced a library of award-winning documentaries and videos to help youngsters understand the stark realities of drugs and gang life, keep them off the street and drive change.

The Party
Marking Odd Squad’s 20th anniversary, society president Diana Zoppa and Chief Constable Adam Palmer fronted the firm’s Back on Track Gala at the Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront. Hundreds convened to raise a glass to the society’s efforts, fund more productions and hear from the evening’s keynote, Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Scott Oake, who candidly shared the loss of his eldest son, Bruce, to drugs.

VPD officer Sergeant Mark Steinkampf and Odd Squad president Diana Zoppa saw over $220,000 raised to fund more documentaries.
Chief Constable Adam Palmer with Odd Squad benefactor Shirley Barnett.
Hockey Night in Canada host Scott Oake and his wife, Anne, shared their personal and moving story that night.
VPD gang unit detectives Anisha Parmar and Sandy Avelar flank former gang associate Robyn Gill. The women have started a new gang intervention program aimed at young girls.
Odd Squad Society founders Al Arsenault and Chris Graham mark 20 years.

Mission Possible Gala

The Cause
For 25 years, Mission Possible has been helping those burdened with the hardships of living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, one of the country’s poorest and toughest neighbourhoods. Working with businesses and community organizations, the social agency strives to support residents who face barriers to employment and provide them with opportunities to achieve a renewed sense of dignity and purpose through meaningful work.

The Room
As a roaring ’20s-themed affair, the Hyatt Regency ballroom was transformed into a spectacular speakeasy where Mission Possible CEO Matthew Smedley and an influential gala committee welcomed some 300 revelers who came ready to party, imbibe and celebrate the registered charity’s many achievements.

The Highlight
In addition to collecting $176,000 from various fundraising games, the memorable night saw Downtown Eastside residents Violet Bittern, Mike Divine, Kelsey Duncan and Chris Reed cited with Mission Possible’s Comeback Awards for their dogged determination, courage and faith in overcoming great challenges and adversity.

CEO Matthew Smedley, centre, welcomed MP supporters Andrew von Rosen and Leeann Froese of Town Hall Brands.
Gary Lesueur and Pam Vidalin among the well dressed who roared at the ’20s speakeasy.
Committee members Jennifer Ottevangers, and Rachel and Jason Nelson saw $176,000 raised.
Port Coquitlam mayor Greg Moore and his wife, Erin, lent their support.
Comeback Award recipients Mike Divine, Violet Bittern, Chris Reed and Kelsey Duncan.

For more of Fred Lee’s social snaps, subscribe to the VM newsletter!


Get the Newsletter

Own your city with Vancouver’s thrice-weekly scoop on the latest restaurant news, must-shop hotspots and can’t miss events. Rest assured your email is safe with us.