Our Community: Helping kids find the joy in song

Last week, the Victoria Conservatory of Music launched a special campaign to raise funds in support of its ChoirKids Program — with sponsors promising to triple the amount collected.

The ChoirKids program helps children in local elementary schools in underserved and under-resourced communities unlock their potential. The free, non-auditioned choir program focuses on singing for fun, to foster a love and appreciation for music.

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The fundraising program was launched on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 27.

All donations to the program will be matched by Cameron Izard Snell Chartered Professional Accountants, Brian Howe from Odlum Brown Limited and Gareth Dickson. This will triple the amount donated to the campaign, up to a total of $10,000.

Founded in 2012, Giving Tuesday is a global movement for giving and volunteering, taking place after Black Friday.

It is sometimes referred to as the opening day of the giving season by the philanthropic community.

ChoirKids is offered at four local elementary schools — with a plan to extend the program to at least two more schools in the near future. Since its creation, more than 1,000 children have enrolled in local schools — including George Jay, Craigflower, Victoria West and Tillicum.

For more information, go to vcm.bc.ca/choirkids-helping-kids-thrive-song. To donate to the Victoria Conservatory of Music, go to canadahelps.org/en/giv3/12163.

Canadian Club hosts tea at Empress

Christmas Tea at the Empr00.jpgThe public is invited to join members of the Canadian Club of Victoria for an afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress, on Monday.

Experience a sumptuous afternoon tea in the Crystal Ballroom, a delightfully Canadian Christmas tradition.

You will be entertained by young voices of the Tillicum Elementary Choir, under the direction of Lena Palermo.

The club supports the Camosun College Foundation, and the afternoon’s program will include remarks from Jeety Bhalla, chair of the Camosun College Foundation, along with recognition for this year’s Camosun College Bursary Award Recipients.

Tickets are $50. The event runs 2 to 4 p.m. Monday in the Crystal Ballroom of the hotel, 721 Government St. Tickets available by calling 250-370-1837.

For more information, go to thecanadianclubofvictoria.com.

Join a pajama party at Imax theatre

Breakfast2Music, a volunteer-led not-for-profit that raises funds to provide nutritious breakfasts and music programs to schools across Greater Victoria, is partnering with the Rotary Club of Victoria to encourage local businesses to get on board the Polar Express to help feed hungry children.

The groups are putting on a Polar Express Pancake Pajama Party at Imax Victoria on Sunday, Dec. 9.

Proceeds from the event will go toward breakfast and music programs for kids in Greater Victoria.

According to the 2015 Canadian Census, 15 per cent of children in Greater Victoria were living in poverty — that’s 3,000 children. Schools report that children start the day hungry in almost every school. Insufficient nourishment affects a child’s ability to focus, grow and thrive.

Several organizations, businesses and individuals have stepped up to address these troubling statistics.

“What better way to raise funds to support kids than to throw a big pancake party with a classic film?” said Brian Shaughnessy, Harbourside Rotary. “The business community has a solid track record of banding together in times of need. The response has been amazing.”

Guests at the event will include Grade 4 and 5 children in urban Victoria school-breakfast programs.

Breakfast2Music and the Rotary Club of Victoria Harbourside challenge local businesses to participate in the event as sponsors, covering the cost of admission for children or raising funds to feed hungry kids.

For information on sponsorships, contact Brian Shaughnessy at 250-580-5553 or bwshaughnessy@gmail.com, or go to harboursiderotary.org.

To learn more about the breakfast and music programs, go to breakfast2music.com.

Gwaii Haanas plan sets new direction

A plan recently tabled in Parliament shows the way forward for managing co-governed protected areas in Canada, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.

The Gwaii Haanas Gina ‘Waadluxan KilGuhlGa Land-Sea-People plan was tabled in Parliament Nov. 19 and approved by the Council of the Haida Nation and the government of Canada. The plan outlines a vision for the future of Gwaii Haanas, an archipelago in southern Haida Gwaii.

The plan sets strategic direction for shared management and operation of Gwaii Haanas from mountaintop to sea floor and was approved by the Council of the Haida Nation, Parks Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

“This plan is grounded in co-operation, a lot of hard work and a shared vision,” said Scott Wallace, senior research scientist for the David Suzuki Foundation. “We’re looking forward to helping move this plan forward so that future generations can benefit from the cultural and ecological values so unique to Gwaii Haanas.”

Gwaii Haanas is home to some of the world’s most productive ecosystems, on land and in the sea. The 5,000-square-kilometre protected area is known for Haida culture, diverse ecosystems, distinct wildlife and its co-operative management model that has operated for decades.

A key priority of the plan is conserving the diversity of species, populations and communities, including their ability to adapt to climate change. This is one of the first plans in Canada to demonstrate that integrated and adaptive management can lead to protection, restoration and ecologically sustainable uses of protected areas.

For more information, go to davidsuzuki.org.

Hospice brings services to West Shore

Bereavement services offered by the Victoria Hospice are now available in the West Shore.

Victoria Hospice is a leader in offering compassionate bereavement support through a range of services, including volunteer calls and visits, professional counselling, grief-support groups, memorial events and useful resources for grieving families.

Programs and services will be available at a new weekly ambulatory palliative clinic at 940 Goldstream Ave.

“We are so pleased to bring much-needed hospice services to the growing West Shore community,” said Tom Arnold, the fund development director.

The new clinic at the Esquimalt WestShore Health Unit offers weekly patient consultations with a palliative-care physician and community counsellor, as well as bereavement counselling sessions.

Starting Jan. 31, 2019, a monthly bereavement drop-in group will begin and will run on the last Thursday of every month.

Donations fund almost half of Victoria Hospice’s annual operating costs. Funds enable them to provide the best palliative and end-of-life care and support for patients. For more information, go to victoriahospice.org.

• Get that special gift for yourself or a loved one — and help the Victoria Hospice — at All that Glitters VI, a jewelry gala and fundraising exhibition at the Avenue Gallery, now until Christmas Eve.

The exhibition is part of Oak Bay’s annual Art on the Avenue Gallery Walk.

A percentage from the sale of each gem purchased between Nov. 29 and Dec. 24 will be donated to Victoria Hospice. For more information, go to theavenuegallery.com.

Service marks first Sunday of Advent

St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church, along with Lutheran Church of the Cross, Knox Presbyterian Church and Holy Cross Catholic Church, invite you to a First Sunday of Advent service at St. Luke’s Church, tonight.

This ecumenical service of readings, hymns and anthems marks the beginning of Advent. The guest preacher will be Jennifer Henry, the executive director of KAIROS Canada, an ecumenical movement for ecological justice and human rights.

Light refreshments will follow the service.

The service starts at 7 p.m. today at St. Luke’s Church, corner of Cedar Hill Cross Road and Cedar Hill Road.

Experience Pax Dei, the peace of God, this Advent with a service from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday evenings, Dec. 5, 12 and 19 at St. Luke’s Church.

The church will also be open for anyone desiring a quiet place to relax, a place for individual prayer, worship and reflection.

For more information, call 250-477-6741 or visit stlukesvictoria.ca/events.

Bring Christmas joy to a senior

Brighten a senior’s holiday season by taking part in the Be a Santa to a Senior program.

The initiative is the brainchild of Home Instead Senior Care, a company that provides in-home care and support to aging adults.

The community program counts on support from businesses, nonprofit organizations, retailers and volunteers to provide gifts and holiday cheer to seniors who may be isolated from friends or family over holiday season.

“Be a Santa to a Senior helps bring comfort and a smile to many local seniors. It shows that society cares about them, and sees them as an important part of the community,” said Alistair Hicks of the Victoria office. “Social isolation is a concern among seniors, and the holidays often intensify feelings of distance and loneliness. When we deliver gifts and spend time with them, it makes a big difference.”

The company has partnered with long-term care facilities and other community senior organizations to help with gift collection and distribution.

It’s easy to help out — just look for the Be a Santa to a Senior trees, on display until Dec. 10.

Each tree will be decorated with ornaments featuring seniors’ first names and their desired gifts. Holiday shoppers can choose an ornament, buy the requested gift and return it to the store with the ornament attached.

Community volunteers and program partners will wrap and deliver the gifts to local seniors in time for the holidays.

Be a Santa to a Senior trees can be found at: Walmart Uptown, 3460 Saanich St.; Walmart Langford, 860 Langford Parkway.; Progressive Chiropractic, 1595 McKenzie Ave.; First Memorial Services, 4725 Falaise Dr.; Heart Pharmacy, 3643 Shelbourne Ave.; Home Instead Senior Care, 222-1595 McKenzie Ave.; and London Drugs, 911 Yates St.

For more information about the program, go to beasantatoasenior.ca. To learn more about how you can help seniors in isolation in your community, visit imreadytocare.ca.

Cowichan free store needs donations

The Cowichan Neighbourhood House Association has issued an urgent plea for clothing donations.

The shelves are empty at the free store. The store is in dire need of men’s clothing, in particular jackets, coats, rubber boots and socks. Also in demand are women’s coats, blankets, tarps, linen, towels and tents.

Please drop off donations to the office, at 9806 Willow St., Chemainus.

The organization is also looking for donations to go toward its annual Adopt a Family for Christmas drive. Last year, it handed out gift certificates and food hampers to 124 needy families in the Cowichan Valley. Register early, as sponsors and volunteers need time to organize.

For more information on either appeals, go to cnha.ca.

A marathon conversation en français

Tina Price will carry on a conversation in French for 10 hours straight to raise $500 for the Gift of Good Food campaign, today at the  Joie French Café.

Price is a volunteer for the campaign and is hoping to raise enough to provide a family with a Good Food Box every two weeks for a year.

The program provides fresh fruits and vegetables to families facing poverty throughout Greater Victoria.

It partners with 16 community centres, transition houses, single-parent resource centres and local First Nations to provide families who are in need with consistent, healthy produce for their children.

You can talk to Price between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. today at  Joie French Café, 1610 Cook St. You can also make a donation online at thegoodfoodbox.ca/donate/ mange-tout-en-francais.

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