An agency in Toronto is in hot water after reports of tickets to events donated with the intent of helping make a “dream come true” for low-income children were instead used by administrators of the agency and their friends. The agency, La Passerelle, has seen its relationships with the Kids Up Front charity organization dissolved in the wake of the reporting by the Toronto Star.
According to TheStar.com, Kids Up Front distributed 782 tickets with a face value of $52,000 to La Passerelle in the past few years, in a relationship that dated back to 2014. It is unclear how many tickets were misused, but the investigation found photos of several instances where executive director Léonie Tchatat, husband Guy Taffo, and other agency managers, staff, and friends attended events in Toronto including Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift concerts and Toronto Raptor and Maple Leafs games, often seated in premium locations.
Instead of a “dream come true” for the children intended to benefit from the ticket donations, the agency operated more as a “free for all” for those in charge. Through their lawyers, Tchatat and Taffo told The Star they only used tickets when they “would otherwise have gone unused,” but the Kids Up Front rules stipulate that tickets without a planned recipient must be returned to the charity 24 hours before an event in order that they may be distributed through other agencies the charity works with.
Kids Up Front terminated the agreement with La Passerrelle on Tuesday. The agency was one of 350 the charity works with.
La Passerelle’s stated mission is to help Francophone immigrants to greater Toronto find employment. It does not generally deal with children, and receives some $2 million in government grants in addition to its now-terminated relationship with the ticketing charity.
“We regret our misunderstanding in this matter,” Tchat said in a statement to The Star. “We wish Kids Up Front the very best for the future.”
Photo: Léonie Tchatat (right), Guy Taffo via Toronto Star