Seeds of Friendship Concert supports Our Place/Chez Nous

February 24, 2017

By John Tanner

Joie de Vivre Choir and the Plain Salt folk group are collaborating on a second Seeds Of Friendship Concert to raise money for Our Place/Chez Nous Drop-In Centre. The concert will take place on Sun., April 23, at 7 p.m., at St. John Brebeuf Church, 1707 St. John Brebeuf Place, Winnipeg. The program will include spirituals and old favourites, such as You Are My Sunshine, A Place In The Choir, and The Parting Glass. A group of folk songs will be performed in various languages with the choir as back-up to Plain Salt; and there will be a medley of sing-along songs featuring the word “Smile!”
Admission is free; a donation of food, new or gently used clothing or cash is encouraged.
Our Place/Chez Nous Drop-In Centre is known to its visitors as The Cross because of the large brown cross above the entrance at 676 Main Street, across from Thunderbird House. It is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. The visitors are mostly homeless people from the inner city. They get coffee (reputed to be the strongest and best in the neighbourhood), snacks, clothing, toiletries, take-away (emergency) food, a chance to take a shower, and a place just to “hang out” for a few hours, playing cards and computer games. It is a haven, a refuge from the hurly-burly of life on the street, a living space for those who don’t own one. Many visitors are regulars whose interaction with the staff is both friendly and mutually respectful. It is a registered charity and runs exclusively on donations and volunteers, primarily, but not exclusively, from the Roman Catholic parishes in the archdioceses of Winnipeg and St. Boniface. There is a splendid exchange program of clothing for food between Our Place/Chez Nous and the Starlight Hutterite Colony. Our Place/Chez Nous  enjoys and is extremely grateful for the support of Constable Kevin Burkett, who drops in every day to chat with both visitors and staff.
The present membership of Joie de Vivre Choir is around fifty singers. It began in 2001 as a program for seniors in the Preparatory Division of the Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba. The choir has since become an independent entity for mature singers of all ages under the leadership of John Tanner, a retired vascular surgeon who graduated with MMus in 2012. The choir’s accompanist, Charmaine Bacon, a virtuoso flutist as well as a wonderful pianist, obtained her BMus and MMus in flute performance from the University of Manitoba and the University of Toronto. Plain Salt is a folk group specializing in Celtic music. Their performances are always exciting, whether before a large or a small crowd. Their name speaks to their attachment to the prairies and to the Maritimes.

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