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Wednesday, 18 September 2013 13:41

Bassano, Solway come through big for Siksika flood victims

Written by  Prairie Post
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The past three months have been like a roller coaster ride for 19-year-old Kelsey Solway.


Solway, a Siksika resident, who took all of her secondary schooling in Bassano and is now a journalism student at Mount Royal University in Calgary, has accomplished a lot in a short span of time this summer.
Watching her community be devastated by late June floods, Solway found herself organizing a benefit concert involving international country music singing stars Corb Lund and Ian Tyson.
The Sept. 15 benefit at the Bassano arena was a success.
“We are still counting exactly how much we raised, but at the closing remarks myself and Mayor Tom Rose presented a cheque to flood survivors Leanne Sleigh and John Yellow Sun for $30,000. That was a minimum. I’m thinking we raised about five to 6,000 dollars on top of that,” explained Solway in an email. “With an attendance of more than 800 lucky ticket holders, we really brought together different people from many different communities in Southern Alberta.
“It was amazing to see how many volunteers, organizers and public came out and supported the cause. A lot of hard work was put into this event and it was all worth it. None of it would be possible without Bassano Vision Committee, the Town of Bassano and all the donators that helped in making it great. We all worked so hard in creating something that no one thought would be possible in the beginning and it was all for the people who needed it the most.”
Solway and Telly James were the emcees for the night.
Eldon Weasel Child kicked off the night by performing some covers of Tracy Byrd and George Strait. He also performed a special honour song on the hand drum thanking everyone in attendance and the volunteers for coming out.
Besides the two headliners, singer Armond Duck Chief put on a memorable and outstanding performance singing a lot of his own songs from his album and some covers of famous country songs.
According to Solway, many in attendance were extremely impressed with Duck Chief and were really surprised they haven’t heard of him before. He apparently left the stage with a lot of new fans.
There was also a video presentation regarding Siksika which stirred a lot of emotions and reminded fans why they were there.
“We showcased my cousin Trevor’s documentary, ‘Siksika Strong.’  It left a lot of people in the audience in  tears and really gave the message to why we were all there that night,” explained Solway.
“It showcased Siksika and its flood survivors well.”
The headliners also did not disappoint as Lund thoroughly entertained the crowd.
Solway said of three opportunities she has seen Lund play, this was by far, her favorite show.
However, the Taber native’s musical prowess wasn’t the reason why Solway was even more impressed with him.
“Although he is probably used to playing huge venues around the world, it was very special the attention and effort he put into captivating the audience’s attention and to boost the morale of those flood survivors who were really the people that this night was dedicated to,” explained Solway.
“Ian Tyson did a great job at performing as well and a lot of the older generation was impressed to see a legend play for Siksika’s benefit.”
To help close out the evening, a special presentation by Siksika representatives to Lund and Tyson put a stamp on what the evening was all about: respect and helping out friends and neighbours. It was a moving experience for all involved.
“In our tradition — as an honorarium — we wrap a blanket around them as a sign of respect and thanking them as a community,” explained Solway.
“(Band) councillors presented Corb and Ian with custom Pendelton Blankets with the Siksika logo, hand painted feathers created by local artist Randy Alexander and a framed photography piece each from Bert Crowfoot. Ian and Corb were both thankful for the gifts and by the looks on their faces grateful for the honour.”
The two stars weren’t the only ones who were grateful, the catalyst for the entire benefit was also humbled by what occurred.
She jokingly admitted her foray into concert organizing probably begins and ends with this effort. While a difficult project, she wouldn’t have traded the entire experience of working with Corb Lund, Bassano Mayor Tom Rose and the Bassano Vision Committee for anything. She was touched by the love and generosity which emanated from the event.
“A huge moment for me was having flood survivors, leadership and a lot of people from the surrounding communities showing how much they appreciated the efforts of pulling off a concert that big,” said Solway. “I never thought it would be that big. It totally exceeded my expectations and I am so grateful that I had help to make a difference for my community. A lot of sleepless nights and stressful days were worth it in the end.”

Read 8198 times Last modified on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 13:42