The inaugural Canadian Screen Awards — the new honour celebrating homegrown TV, film and digital productions — begin in Toronto Wednesday night.

Hosted by comedian Steve Patterson of The Debaters, the non-televised industry gala will see trophies awarded in dozens of categories honouring news, sports, documentary and lifestyle programming.

There will also be tributes to this year's six special honourees: Jeanne Beker, the series Flashpoint, Ian Greenberg, Victor Loewy, Andra Sheffer, Laurier LaPierre, Heather Conkie and IMAX.

Kim Nguyen's child soldier drama War Witch (also known as Rebelle) is a leading nominee among the contenders, with the Congo-set drama — a best foreign-language film contender at last Sunday's Oscars — earning 12 CSA nominations. War Witch star and former street kid Rachel Mwanza was granted permission to visit the U.S. for the Oscars and Canada for the CSA gala, as well as for the French-language Claude Jutra Awards.

In May 2012, the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television announced it would consolidate the existing Genie and Gemini Awards, honouring English-language film and television respectively, into one omnibus event that would also celebrate digital media production.

In September, the group revealed the new event would be known as the Canadian Screen Awards and unveiled a logo design that has been reflected in the new CSA trophy.

The merged event is "a true reflection of the multi-platform universe of today," academy chair Martin Katz said in a statement.

"News, sports and entertainment now come to us on screens of many sizes."

The celebration continues on Thursday evening with a second industry ceremony honouring the winners of drama, youth, comedy and variety categories.

The celebration ends with a televised gala hosted by Martin Short and broadcast by CBC-TV on Sunday.

Altogether, the CSAs will present awards in 120 categories.