Creative people working in different ways to better the community are at the heart of an upcoming fundraiser for St. Aidan’s Anglican Church.
“A Celebration of Life in the Beach” takes place Thursday, Sept. 28 at the Balmy Beach Club. The author dinner fundraiser features performances and readings by local Beachers, and will have displays of St. Aidan’s work in the community, which dates back to 1894, set up throughout the room. Money from the fundraiser goes towards continuing that work: programs like Out of the Cold, focused mental health initiatives, and arts and children’s workshops.
“It’s going to be a really interesting weave of different moods and different stories,” said St. Aidan’s Rev. Lucy Reid, “but all of them connected with who we are in the Beach, who we are in the community and how we together can make a difference here.”
Celebrated crime novelist Peter Robinson, known for his Inspector Banks Mystery Series, anchors the evening, with authors Catherine Dunphy and Lisa de Nikolits, aka the Mesdames of Mayhem, keeping with the mysterious theme.
“An awful lot of clergy love reading murder mysteries,” laughed Reid. “I think it’s the solving of a puzzle and going from a terrible situation to a resolution.”
All of the authors have a connection to the St. Aidan’s community, including local filmmaker Mike Downie, the brother of The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie. Mike co-produced the Secret Path project, inspired by the story of Chanie Wenjak, a First Nations boy who died fleeing a residential school 50 years ago. Mike will speak about Secret Path and will have copies of the graphic novel, part of the layered multimedia project which brings attention to the history of residential schools and Indigenous experience.
“It’s a very sobering part of the evening, but it’s a story that we need to hear,” said Reid.
“One of the things St. Aidan’s has been trying to work on, in a modest and humble way, is Truth and Reconciliation and educating ourselves about what happened at the residential schools and, as we’ve learned, trying to do some actions of solidarity and support.”
From a personal perspective, Reid has been passionate about this type of work throughout her service.
“Being connected to and intimately tied to an institution that ran many of the schools, and perpetuated the racism and the harm, I think it’s so vital that we own up to that and take responsibility to do what we can in terms of reconciliation,” she said. “A lot of that is teaching people, because folks haven’t always known the story, or haven’t wanted to know it.”
But Reid hopes that by learning about these stories, people will be inspired to continue the work.
“I hope that’s something people take away, and want to come back and learn more so that we can offer more truth and reconciliation programs for the community,” said Reid.
Ultimately, the goal is to bring the community together to make new partnerships, and discover new opportunities for outreach.
“We want to bring the community together. You laugh and you cry together as a family, so it’s the shadows and the light… the gifts and the needs of the community,” she said.