Legacy of Jon Gates

A modern-day hero, Jon Gates was one of the world’s leading experts on development issues and AIDS.

directed by: Peter Davis, Harvey McKinnon
produced by: Peter Davis, Harvey McKinnon
(1993) 52 minutes

”The argument that we must take care of our own and somehow draw a line which excludes the rest of the human family is an intellectually bankrupt argument, bereft of principle and devoid of humanity.” -Jon Gates, 1992

A modern-day hero, Jon Gates was one of the world’s leading experts on development issues and AIDS. The Legacy of Jon Gates details his last two years of living with AIDS and fighting valiantly to save lives – including his own.

As he did in life, Jon cuts through fear, anger and prejudice, with clarity, humanity and humour. Jon was always vividly attuned to the world’s injustices, and anxious to contribute to righting them. The Legacy of Jon Gates weaves the story of his struggle to make one final eloquent statement – that no vaccine for HIV/AIDS be released in the North without a guarantee that it be made freely available to people in the South.

Jon anticipated the time when an anti-AIDS vaccine would be discovered. He believed that once this happened, it would be unlikely for pharmaceutical companies to make the vaccine available to those who could not afford it. And people in Southern countries would largely be ignored, once again. In what proved to be his last crusade, Jon campaigned the cause of people living with AIDS, present and future. The culmination of Jon’s life’s work – his key-note speech to the Canadian AIDS Society – was a clarion call for solidarity, for active engagement, and for sacrifice. He called on people with AIDS in the First World to support their peers in the Third World, and refuse the vaccine until it was made freely available everywhere, to everyone. It was a speech that has been quoted and reprinted around the world.

This film is a tribute to Jon’s life and a way to keep his crusade alive. Jon’s passion will inspire action, and his humanity will touch even the most world-weary viewers.