By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Three local women have combined their talents with their passion for a worthy cause to promote an upcoming concert with up-and-coming rock/pop band Rend. The fundraiser for Little Warriors will take place at the Celtic Knot in St. Albert Mar. 9 and is an opportunity for people to help address a serious issue with a fun evening of entertainment.
Little Warriors, a national charitable organization that focuses on the education and prevention of child sexual abuse, received considerable media attention recently after being notified their request for $650,000 in provincial grant funding to help build the Be Brave Ranch, a treatment centre for sexually abused children, was denied. The organization, founded by child sex abuse survivor Glori Meldrum, had already raised $1.4 million for the initiative.
Concert organizers Calli Stromner, Eva Scrimshaw and Brandi, the latter a woman whose last name we have agreed not to publish, are hoping to raise more money for the cause with their upcoming event. All proceeds from ticket sales and silent auction items will go directly to Little Warriors.
An important cause
For two of the organizers, there is a personal motivation in seeing the Little Warriors ranch become a reality. Both Stromner and Brandi are survivors.
“As an adult survivor of child sexual abuse, I not only lived through the original traumatic events of the abuse, but the lingering psychological damage caused by them,” Stromner said. “Like millions of child victims, I did not have access to any type of treatment because none existed – and it still doesn’t.”
Stromner said it’s taken her 25 years to come to some sort of peace with what happened. But she is left wondering how much further ahead in life she would be if the opportunity to heal and recover had been available, things Little Warriors are trying to accomplish with their ranch initiative. “I think about today’s child victims and how much more violent and depraved the sexual abuses are and want to do everything within my power to help these innocents,” Stromner said.
For Brandi there is a sense of urgency in getting the Be Brave Ranch up and running. A Little Warrior and sex abuse survivor herself, she is currently dealing with helping her adopted daughter through the rough road of being a survivor. “I feel this is an urgent cause,” she said. “I lived it and don’t want her to deal with it for the rest of her life like other generations and mine have had to.”
Stromner agrees. “The need for the Be Brave Ranch goes beyond urgent,” she said. “Every day, more and more children have their innocence violently stripped away by sexual deviants and pedophiles. The Be Brave Ranch may not prevent this from happening, but it will offer sanctuary, hope and restoration to the little souls that have been violated.”
Brandi, who took part in a recent video campaign by Little Warriors, finds the province’s recent revelation it couldn’t provide money to help build the ranch reprehensible. “The government exists to provide services and programs to those who can’t get them on their own,” she said. “The Government obviously places a higher priority on costly junkets to the London Olympics or shiny new offices for MLAs than it does on our most precious resource. I’d like Premier Redford to personally tell my little daughter why the government can’t help her.”
Eva Scrimshaw, a personal friend to both women, has challenged the premier on the need to fund the project. In a letter to Premier Alison Redford, Scrimshaw gave her personal perspective as someone who has worked with at-risk children since she was 19. “Reading files of innocent children who have had the most horrendous acts happen to them over the last 15 years of my life has to be torture in itself,” Scrimshaw wrote. “Then there is seeing their faces every day, getting to know them, care for them, watching them act out in anger, frustration, losing all self control all because they themselves do not know what to do with what has happened to them. We as workers are told we are not allowed to hug them, console them, get too close to them but we are allowed to restrain them once they become violent or suicidal. So we cannot show them the love that they need and crave but we are allowed to hold them down in hostile situations. This never made sense to me and never will. These children bounce from group home, foster home, treatment facility and back with every stop on the way being surrounded by adults who are not allowed to help them in the way they deserved to be helped.”
Although Premier Redford and her party have not stepped forward to help the cause, Rend was more than willing to do their part. The five-piece band is made up of Carol-Lynne Quinn (vocals/keyboard), Charis Logan (drums), Jeff Quinn (bass), Steve Roe (Guitar), and Nate Glubish (piano/synthesizer).
Though most of the band studied together at university, they have only been performing together as a band for two years. In that time Rend’s star has been rising with ever increasing air play across the country and an ever-widening tour circuit.
Lead singer Carol-Lynn Quinn said the band is excited to be part of the fundraiser. “Little Warriors is a charity close to our hearts and we are extremely supportive of the Little Warriors charity and the Be Brave Ranch,” she said. “We are passionate about the prevention and treatment of child abuse and believe awareness is essential for any change. Our lyrics talk about hope, love and light in the shadows. It is humbling to be part of such an amazing organization that stands alongside and gives hope to these children, parents and our community.”
But the organizers are equally excited to have the band on board. “Rend is hot right now, just being nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year at The Edmonton Music Awards,” Brandi said. “But more than anything, they reached out and asked to be able to do something for Little Warriors after Eva [Scrimshaw] posted our letter writing campaign on their page back in the fall. Eva and I have been waiting for the right event since.”
That right event will take place at the Celtic Knot Pub – 388 St. Albert Trail – Mar. 9. The three organizers are hoping to raise $2,000 or more between proceeds from ticket sales and silent auction items.
Tickets are $10 and available by texting 780-399-1544 or 780-292-5863 for more info. Tickets may also be purchased (cash only) at This and That next to No Frills. Doors open at the Celtic Pub 7 p.m. Mar. 9.