Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Emily H. & Student Body Discover the Unseen

Invisible Children, a documentary which depicts the atrocities and stories of child soldiers in Northern Uganda, was filmed by three college students; Jason Russell, Laren Poole and Bobby Bailey. In 2003, following their trip to Africa, they began their now renowned organization, the Invisible Children. Presently, the organization is a global phenomenon; releasing the stories of those who cannot speak for themselves and gathering a garrison, whose mission it is to further spread the word and end such atrocities.

On March 12th, Invisible Children presented a screening of the documentary in order to inform, inspire, and motivate the students of Marianopolis. Students sat enraptured by the screening which provided a mere glance into the world of child soldiers in Northern Uganda. They learned of Africa’s currently longest war and how those most affected were not only the wounded, but those children who must trek day and night in order to find a safe haven so that they may not suffer the horror that roams through their country. Students learned that not only were mass amounts of people being killed without reason, but that children were the soldiers. The Lord’s Resistant Army, begun by Joseph Kony, has literally brought hell on earth for the people of Uganda, and, presently, the DRC. Innocent children are unwillingly being programmed into child soldiers, an issue all too present across the globe today. Forced to murder and rape their very own parents; this is a future the invisible children prayed to avoid.

Thankfully, people like Emily H., one of Marianopolis’ own, has brought this all too seemingly different reality to our attention. Emily too was unaware of the plight of the children of Uganda until she heard of the Invisible Children through the merchandise they sell. Emily speaks of her admiration of these small tokens of hope: “I admired the design of the bracelets, and especially because the bracelets were made by child soldiers and all the proceeds went towards a good cause. As I ordered the bracelet, I was able to check out the website, and I was completely in awe. I like to follow world issues and I was thoroughly unaware of the issues of child soldiers and the website explained the issue so clearly and its information was geared towards our generation.”

Initially, Emily wanted Marianopolis to participate in the organization’s Schools for Schools program. After discussing the matter with the very willing members of Congress, it was decided that Marianopolis would support the cause. “Invisible Children were so eager to come to the school and to Montreal that they convinced me that they wanted to come to our school still, more than ever, and that just to have the screening to raise awareness would fulfill their goal” says Emily. Emily emphasizes that she simply wanted to “inspire and motivate” the student body, for she believes that this issue is “important for our generation to deal with.”

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Listen Up: It’s Hey Ocean!

Hey Ocean Band Mates.
Image pulled from:

Listen up students of Marianopolis, thanks to Adam Reider, our school will host one of Canada’s extraordinarily talented treasures next month. Infectious Canadian band Hey Ocean is coming to a student lounge near you, April 21st, activity period! Ashleigh Ball, David Beckingham, David Vertesi, and Daniel Klenner provide listeners with a cool amalgamation of soothing eclectic blends with a hip funk edge. This combination not so surprising when a band is able to fluidly connect reggae, funk, folk, and jazz as their inspirational blends to achieve a world sound. Both vocals and instrumentals seem completely in equilibrium, never allowing a dull moment to seep in through one song or another. The young Vancouver good-side-of-pop pop group has also recently been issued as one of the top 10 hit list songs on the MuchMoreMusic playlist, a not too easy feat for Canadian indie bands. Often described as one of Canada’s best-up-and-coming bands, Hey Ocean surely won’t disappoint. So come join in the charismatic fun that is Hey Ocean.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

2009: Québec’s First Annual Blank-Fest Charity Event

Jon Asher with donated items Saturday, February 21st. Photographed by Phil Cyr.

Blank-Fest Québec, in affiliation with Montreal’s Old Mission Brewery and local indie bands, hosted the first annual fundraiser at Montreal’s renowned music venue, Bar St. Laurent 2 on Saturday, February 21st.

Event organizer, Jon Asher, is handling this event in hopes to spread awarness of the troubles the homeless of Québec face. Admission was a blanket, or clothing, and the anticipated goal was to reach a 100-blanket minimum by the end of the indie-torn night. All of which will go to the homeless this year in order to help them through these cold times. Some new, some old, and…preferably no borrowed blankets was the theme of the night.

Even the bands of the night (Fifty Stars Anger, Ashtray, Vinyl Hero, Special Ops) got in the spirit, bringing in garbage bags filled with blankets, jackets, gloves, you name it. Asher’s message: “the main thing is awareness. Awareness is the biggest thing you want to generate with charities. You can go buy another one [blanket], someone needs it more than you.”
Blank-Fest highlights the importance of working together and to just do something simple to help the homeless. Blank-Fest founder, Kenn Rowell of the Baghdaddios, proves that you can turn hope into reality. With its roots originating in New York City, 1997, Kenn, along with his musician buddies simply had, as Asher puts it, a wish to “give back to the community” and got the now international charity rolling. Bar St. Laurent was the only Montreal city music venue that offered to put up the chairty event for free Saturday night, and thanks to them, Blank-Fest continues to spread its message.

But why February, why not host the event during the holiday season? Asher confesses, “I like that I chose February because everyone does it around Christmas and then everyone forgets.” The reality of our environment at this time is indeed a harsh one, both economical and climate-wise. However, we cannot forget those who are less fortunate. The homeless have their “significant stories, and some even have Masters Degrees,” says Asher of our local “forgotten” population. The homeless of Québec, as Asher stresses, are just like us, only they’ve simply taken a small wrong turn somewhere along the road to success. Unfortunately, those small turns can lead to serious injury and even death given Québec’s below-zero-degree winter temperatures for months at a time.

Yes folks, just one blanket can make the difference. Such was the point Asher attempted and succeeded in making Saturday night. All proceeds collected throughout the night make their way to Montreal’s Old Mission Brewery, who will generously distribute the pieces throughout this winter season.

Final count on what was collected for Blank-Fest Québec’s first event:
Blankets: 52; Jackets: 68; Sleeping Bags: 15; Shoes/ Boots: 26 pairs; Shirts: 84; Pants: 101; Sweaters: 101; Mittens/gloves: 13 pairs; Tuques: 19; Scarves: 12; Socks: 9 pairs; Pillows: 3.

For more information on Blank-Fest, please visit:

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