By Mike Cohen


As Canada grapples with some of the highest rates of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in the world (1 out of 150 people) individuals, businesses, and researchers from across Montreal will come together in a show of support for everyone impacted by these chronic diseases. The 16th Annual Gala for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada will takes place at on Sunday, April 29 beginning at 6:30 p.m.  at the breathtaking Jetée Alexandra Reception Hall in the Old Port of Montreal (200 rue de la Commune St. W.)


This year’s honourees will be Michael and Melissa Assaraf (pictured) from Pharmacie Michael Assaraf, as well as gastroenterologist Dr. Louis-Charles Rioux from Maisonneuve Rosemont Hospital.  Noted Montreal born Jewish comedian Neev, who has appeared at Just For Laughs, will be the emcee and performer. Joanne Cutler and the Que Sera duo will provide music during the cocktail dînatoire, featuring food stations from some of Montreal’s finest restaurants including Nora Gray, Grumman 78, Montreal Plaza, Ashley’s, Brothers, Tavern on the Square, TCBY, Christina’s, Miss Prêt à Manger, Soupe Café and more.  A live auction hosted by Virgin Radio’s Lee Haberkorn and a dessert reception will follow Neev’s performance.  Neev has opened for Gad Elmaleh in France and Montreal. With his Moroccan origins and North American education, he travels with ease through cultures, accents, manners and folly.


Michael Assaraf launched his pharmacy business back in 2008. At the time he knew that the road to success was paved with a lot of sheer hard work, so he embraced this ethic and has never looked back. Along with tremendous support from his wife Melissa and his family, Michael has created a business that routinely goes far beyond the expected to ensure the well-being of his patients.  Today, his pharmacy boasts a professional growing staff of more than 30 employees, dispensing specialty medications to patients throughout Quebec. What’s more, Michael and his crew pay particular attention to patients battling chronic illnesses, including Crohn’s and Colitis, making sure that they receive safe, efficient and complete access to what they need to live their lives. Michael sums up his success in two words – customer service. Sometimes it takes a week, six months or five years down the road, but the commitment to providing exceptional customer service means a guaranteed path to success and sustained growth. Caring will always be the right prescription. Being a strong believers in the importance of giving back, Michael and Melissa have been supporting Crohn’s and Colitis Canada for five years with the goal of improving the lives of anyone affected by Crohn’s and Colitis.  The couple reside in Hampstead with their four children, Charles, Katie, Max and Leo.


Dr. Rioux has been a practicing gastroenterologist for 25 years and is the Department Head at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital.  He is also Chair of the Ethics Committee of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology. Inflammatory bowel diseases have always been a topic of interest to him and his commitment to patients has always been motivated by the desire to provide the best care to his patients. He has a Master’s Degree in Bio-Medical Sciences and the subject of his thesis was on the epidemiology of these diseases in Quebec. He has always been at the forefront new treatments and has been constantly exploring ways to improve the delivery of care to patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease with a focus on quality of the doctor-patient relationship, teaching and systematic follow-up. He is involved not only in the hospital but also in the community, by creating a partnership with his colleague Dr. Edmond-Jean Bernard, the CMIIM (Center for Intestinal and Inflammatory Diseases of Montreal) a patient-centered integrated care and follow-up clinic.


Proceeds from the Gala will fund vital research as well as local support and education programs offered by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. Tickets are $220 per person and can be purchased online at or by calling 514-342-0666.  The Facebook event page can be accessed at Last year’s event raised over $300,000.


About Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis


Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are diseases that inflame the lining of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract and disrupt the body’s ability to digest food, absorb nutrition, and eliminate waste in a healthy manner. As a result, people with Crohn’s or colitis can experience abdominal pain, cramping, gas, bloating, fatigue, diarrhea (possibly bloody), and weight loss. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).


About Crohn’s and Colitis Canada


Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is the only national, volunteer-based charity focused on finding the cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and improving the lives of children and adults affected by these diseases. The organization is one of the top two health charity funders of Crohn’s and colitis research in the world, investing over $100 million in research since 1974, leading to important breakthroughs in genetics, gut microbes, inflammation and cell repair, as well as laying the groundwork for new and better treatments.