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SAiF & Sound benefit concert supports victims of domestic violence

Sturgeon Valley Singers, poet Lauren Seal to appear at fundraiser
Sturgeon Valley Singers Guild poses for one of its cabaret style perforrmances. The guild hosts its spring showcase in partnership with Stop Abuse in Families at a special presentation titled SAiF & Sound on Friday, March 8 at the Arden Theatre.

Stop Abuse in Families (SAiF) marks International Women’s Day on Friday, March 8 at the Arden Theatre with a benefit concert to support victims of domestic violence. 

Sturgeon Valley Singers Guild headlines SAiF & Sound, an inaugural variety show that integrates music, songs, poetry, videos and stories. Lauren Seal, the 2023 St. Albert Poet Laureate, has written We Need to Talk, a new poem designed to further the conversation on intimate-partner violence.  

In addition, this singular event features four short videos, including two on surviving the effects of domestic violence. Irene Slater, founder of SAiF, speaks about her trailblazing efforts in one video. In the second video, Lynn Rosychuk, founder of the Morinville based Jessie’s House, describes a powerful account of losing a daughter to intimate-partner violence and SAiF’s support through her journey.  

SAiF also features two different animated videos, Dorothy’s Story and Mummy’s Story. The videos are structured around two common scenarios from a mashup of client talks.  

Wrapping the small segments into a unified production are 16 guild voices singing 13 songs from musical theatre, folk/roots, and pop-rock catalogues. The cover songs include the East Pointers Stronger Than You Know, We Banjo Three’s Light in the Sky and Sara Bareilles Once Upon Another Time. Accompanying the vocalists are Dan Belland (piano) and Gary Glewinski (mandolin, bass, guitar). 

All songs selected are chosen to further the conversation, the impact, the recovery and what is needed day-to-day. Yet, the guild is acutely aware domestic violence is a heavy topic and will balance the evening with a positive vibe. 

“We want to give a message of hope. We want to tell stories and we want to sing songs of people working together. And we want to bring attention to this issue,” said Sturgeon Valley Singers Guild (SVSG) founder Meridith McLeod Gagnon.  

SVSG launched in 2008 as a cabaret-style troupe with seven vocalists. Except for a break during the COVID-19 pandemic, the guild has hosted two productions annually at St. Matthews Anglican Church. 

“When we started, there wasn’t a lot of community theatre in St. Albert for adults that didn’t require a three- or four-day-a-week rehearsal. For some of us with work and kids that wasn’t possible. We rehearse once a week, and practise at home. Everyone here is motivated, so it’s never been a problem,” McLeod Gagnon said. 

Tammie Lubemsky, a board member at SAiF, attended one of SVSG’s cabaret nights and hit on the idea of partnership with the singers. 

“We were looking for any program that would help integrate music into the community and this was perfect. We usually do a fall show and a spring fundraiser, and this fit perfectly into our program,” said McLeod Gagnon. 

SAiF executive director Mark Dixon hopes the show will recharge conversations about domestic violence and prompt more community-level discussion through different mediums. 

“We need to break the silence around intimate-partner violence and how we look at it in this community,” said Dixon. 

“Throughout the pandemic we were dealing with domestic violence where the victim was isolated with the perpetrator, and couldn’t get away from the perpetrator, and it really exacerbated the situation,” he explained. 

St. Albert saw a large jump in domestic violence statistics throughout 2020 to 2022 which created a backlog in the system.  SAiF just moved into new, larger offices that could potentially accommodate a larger client base. 

“Now that we’ve moved into a new space, our numbers are increasing and to support them we need to have more clinicians. To pay them we need to find additional streams of income.”    

Currently the 2024 budget is approximately $500,000. Government grants from City of St. Albert, Parkland County, Sturgeon County, the provincial and federal governments cover about 50 per cent of the budget. However, grants are not a stable source of income. 

To maintain the current level of service, the shortfall needs to be made up from additional sources including business sponsorships, individual donations, fundraisers, and personal endowments. Anyone who wishes to make a donation or discuss an endowment can email Dixon at [email protected].

“This is the first time we’ve done this, and we don’t know what to expect. I hope we have 200 people in the audience. This is a difficult situation to discuss, and this is something people may not go out of their way to see. If we make $5,000, I’ll be happy.” 

Throughout the evening a silent auction and raffle will be held in Progress Hall. 

SAiF & Sound takes place Friday, March 8, at 7:45 p.m. at the Arden Theatre. Tickets range from $23.40 to $35.10. Go online to or call 780-459-1542. 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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