Exquisitely performed classical music being shared with a knowing audience is one way to raise money for meaningful causes that benefit many.
Though the person pressing the strings, violinist Carolyn Cameron, concedes that for her, she’s hoping her concerts will pique interest in Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th Century music, and draw in many newly refined ears.
“I have done lots of fundraisers over the years, many just one-time deals,” Cameron shares. “My motives are somewhat selfish in that I want to do concerts, but the support for classical music in this area is pretty low.”
Attendance seems to be better if there is a theme or cause, she notes.
“And it allows me to reach a different audience each time.”
There are certain groups that she keeps coming back to, such as hospice or West Kootenay Friends of Refugees. And it’s the latter — West Kootenay Friends of Refugees or WKFoR for short — that she is lending her talent to in the Trail United Church on Sunday, Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.
“One of the reasons is that the people working in these organizations are quite wonderful,” Cameron said. “The second, which applies to WKFoR, is that one can see almost immediately the difference one has made in a person’s life. I love to hear the stories of people who have come to our area through the program. Some of them are truly incredible and inspiring.”
A very poignant moment she shares is when a friend pointed out a recipient of WKFoR’s generosity and said to Cameron; “your concert is what allowed this person to be here.”
“I can tell you that there is no feeling like it,” she said. “And you don’t even have to put on the concert to participate in that feeling — you can just go to the concert and know that you played a part in bringing that person to Canada and presumably to a better life.”
What about those who want to help but may not be a fan of classical music, yet?
“Come to the concert and wear earplugs,” Cameron said with a smile.
For the concert on Sunday — to benefit an Afghan-Hazara family soon to arrive in this area — Cameron, on violin, will be joined by; Hendrik Mendes, harpsichord; Sarah Currie, voice; and Leslie Mahr on viola/basso continuo.
The quartet will be performing a selection of works by J.S. Bach.
“All gems,” Cameron said.
Admission to the Sunday concert in Trail United Church is by donation. Tax receipts will be issued and all funds go directly to WKFoR to help settle the family of four.
“Playing fundraiser concerts allows me to participate in this process with what I feel is the best I can offer, my music.”
Family to arrive
When the Taliban assumed power in Afghanistan last year, WKFoR decided to sponsor an Afghan-Hazara family. The Canadian government set up a program called Operation Afghan Safety, which was designed to bring 40,000 people to Canada. Afghans who had worked for the Canadian government were given highest priority. Next were people considered at high risk because of their human rights activities.
In April 2022, an organization based in Toronto called Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) contacted the West Kootenay group to ask if they would take a family they knew of. The Rossland-based group of volunteers readily agreed.
In December 2021, the father of the family was arrested and tortured. He was a journalist and had reported on human rights abuses by the Taliban. His wife was a university lecturer and has her Master’s degree in women’s issues. She is also an activist at risk. They have two young daughters. The father was eventually released and the family escaped to Islamabad, Pakistan, where they contacted JHR for help.
They have waited in Pakistan without status, in the hope of a new start elsewhere.
JHR was very helpful in preparing their applications to Canada. The West Kootenay-bound family has been accepted as refugees, passed immigration interviews and medicals, and have recently become “travel ready.”
The final step is for the International Office for Migration to arrange flights, though that timeline has not been confirmed.
WKFoR is also in search of accommodation for the family, and any leads would be appreciated.
To help email: WKFORfunds@gmail.com.
The Hazaras are an ethnic group native to and primarily residing in the Hazaristan region in central Afghanistan and generally scattered throughout Afghanistan. They are one of the largest ethnic groups in Afghanistan, with significant minority groups in neighboring Pakistan, mostly in Quetta, as well as in Iran. They speak the Hazaragi dialect of Persian, which is mutually intelligible with Dari, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan.
Hazaras are considered to be a persecuted group in Afghanistan, and their persecution has occurred many times across previous decades.
A 2018 United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan report says most attacks by Taliban on civilians are directed towards the minority population, most of whom are ethnic Hazaras.
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