This is the last edition of the Nanaimo News Bulletin of 2017. Today’s arts and entertainment section takes a look back on the most read online stories of the year. The articles below have been condensed from their original versions.
The most clicked-on arts and entertainment story of the year concerned a fundraising concert in support of the families of two shooting victims.
On April 2, former Nanaimo residents Terry Sutton, 39, a father of four, and Jason Williams, 40, a father of two, were killed at a residence in Chipman, Alta., about an hour east of Edmonton.
Peter Hudson, a friend who attended Wellington Secondary School with Sutton and Williams and who still lives in Nanaimo, responded to the news by organizing a fundraising event, We Take Care of Our Own, at the Queen’s on May 27. Hudson hoped to raise $10,000 to support the families and provide counseling for the men’s children, who range from toddlers to teens.
The concert featured performances by Nick and Kaitlynn, Peter the Banjo Guy, Kavawon, SirReal, Morgan, Murray and Rick Threat.
“If you don’t know the people it’s not about that. It’s about a night of positivity and love. It’s about healing and doing the right thing,” Hudson said of the event.
2. Music festival remembers Nanaimo overdose victim (Sept. 6)
On Sept. 9 a memorial festival was held in honour of Anton Lemieux, a local artist and musician who passed away from a fentanyl overdose in March.
Lemieux’s friend Max Frazer, general events co-ordinator for the Vault Café, organized the day-long Festival Lemieux, which was held in the backyard of Sound Heritage in downtown Nanaimo.
Frazer said organizing a music festival had been something he and Lemieux had discussed doing for years.
“We had just started the planning of it and tragedy struck around that time and I felt, not obliged, but I felt like it was right to do it anyway and especially for his dad. [He] really, really wanted that to happen,” Frazer said.
“From my perspective, it was just as much for his father as it was for being in memory of him.”
Renowned British DJ Paul Oakenfold performed in Vancouver as part of his North American tour on Sept. 16.
The concert came a few months after Oakenfold played at a fundraiser for victims of 2015 Nepal earthquake. The show took place at Mount Everest base camp, more than 5,000 metres above sea level. He trained for six months to prepare himself for the high-altitude concert, a regimen that including hiking for days around Whistler.
“It had never been done before and we trained very hard for it. I’d never hiked or climbed anything,” Oakenfold said.
“So, it was a big deal for me and we didn’t know if we could pull it off. I didn’t know if I could make it and we didn’t know if the equipment could make it or work.”
This fall 12-year-old Nanaimo resident Hannah Zirke was nominated for three Joey Awards for young Canadian actors. In 2016 she received her first two nominations and won her first award for her performance in a Macy’s advertisement.
This year she was up for Best Actress in a Short Film, Age 11-12 Years for her work in Lost, by Nanaimo filmmaker Michael Chen, Best Series Regular or Leading Actress in a TV Series, 11 Years for her role in the DirecTV Audience Network program Rogue and Best Ensemble in a TV Series for When Calls the Heart.
The awards gala was held at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel and Conference Centre on Nov. 18, but this time she came home empty-handed.
She said she isn’t surprised to be garnering award attention so soon into her acting career.
“It sounds really bad that I’m saying this, but I kind of knew it was going to happen. I kind of knew if I would do acting for a long time I’d get recognition,” she said.
This summer local author Julie Chadwick launched her book The Man Who Carried Cash, which depicts the relationship between country music star Johnny Cash and Saul Holiff, his manager from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.
She was inspired to start the project after meeting Holiff’s son Jonathan, whose documentary, My Father and the Man in Black, was screened in Nanaimo in 2013.
Because many of the individuals Chadwick wanted to interview were already deceased, the author had to find creative ways to tell the story.
“What made the story really interesting to me was this push and pull between a superstar, a musician and his manager and that the two personalities were equal and how kind of forceful and rich they were, and that to me kind of formed the basis for the book,” Chadwick said.
“I think people will find that interesting, because it’s primarily a book about a relationship.”
6. Nanaimo dancers compete at world championships (Nov. 21)
This November, Tempo Dance Academy students Lucy Trepanier, 16, and Halle Ebdrup, 15, traveled to Riesa, Germany to make their first and second respective appearances at the International Dance Organization World Show Dance Championships, and finished 13th overall as members of Team Canada ShowDance West.
The competition, held from Nov. 20 to 25 regularly draws 250,000 dancers from age seven to 19 from six of the world’s continents.
Since the beginning of summer to duo commuted all the way from Nanaimo to Fort Langley, sometimes multiple times per week, to meet with the team and prepare for their performances. Both dancers competed in the “large group” category but in separate age groups.
Trepanier was initially unsure if she wanted to attend the competition, as it would be a big commitment and school is her main priority.
“But then I realized I’m never going to have this opportunity again. And when I heard [Ebdrup] made the team, we can share carpooling and everything so it was a given that I should do it,” she said.
7. Massive yacht party will set sail in Nanaimo (July 31)
On Aug. 18 Where It’s At Entertainment hosted a party aboard a 400-capacity, three-deck, 127-foot yacht named Queen of Diamonds.
The party featured live performances by a number of artists including Sirreal, Konfidential, Kavawon, Rrkade, B3LOW and High Priority, with each deck dedicated to a different genre of music.
Event organizer and Where It’s At owner Chelsea Gorbins said an event of that kind had not taken place in Nanaimo for nearly a decade.
“The first time I organized a yacht party it was just to do something different,” she said.
“The more I did it, I realized there are not a lot of different fun things for people to do in the summertime. Every one we do always sells out.”
A celebration of the summer solstice was held in the Old City Quarter on June 21.
Attendees of Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Solstice Soiree, were encouraged to dress in fantasy-inspired garb while listening to music courtesy of Patrick Olmsted of Gabriola Guitars and taking in a whimsical photography exhibit by Sarah Bowman.
The art show, a first for Bowman, was held at Lobelia’s Lair. The establishment’s owner, Liberty Harakas, co-organized the event with Whalesong Studio.
“The theme is the Midsummer Night’s Dream, kind of whimsical, forest fairies, imps, witches, wizards, you know, just that whole fantasy realm,” Harakas said of the festivities.
“I think one of the key things around solstice is about celebrating abundance and celebrating creating connections in communities. It’s an opportunity for people to come together and build community.”
Snuneymuxw elder Ellen White was recognized for more than 70 years of education and activism with an insignia of Member of Order of Canada.
B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon presented the honour to White on behalf of then-Gov. Gen. David Johnston during a ceremony at Dufferin Place on March 31.
In her youth, White campaigned to have electricity connected to her reserve and to have programs to better prepare aboriginal school children for the public school system. She wrote several books on Coast Salish beliefs and practices and created the first dictionary of the Hul’q’umi’num language. She also worked as an elder in Vancouver Island University’s native studies program.
“The legacy that you have left us, Ellen, goes far beyond the written word and the dictionaries of Hul’q’umi’num language,” said Guichon during the ceremony.
“The legacy is one of the bridges you have built, based on such strong foundations of love. You are a pioneer and an engineer, for through your love you have forged a pathway that all of us may follow, a pathway to healthy, inclusive communities.”
10. New book explores Vancouver Island ghost stories (Oct. 19)
Nanaimo author Shanon Sinn launched his first book, The Haunting of Vancouver Island: Supernatural Encounters with the Other Side at Vancouver Island University on Oct. 27.
The book covers reported hauntings and ghost and monster sightings from across the Island, both famous and little known, and includes First Nations folklore, as tales of spirits and creatures sometimes jibe with modern ghost stories.
Sinn said his goal was to look at these incidents from an impartial perspective, presenting evidence in the form of personal or second-hand accounts and historical documents to allow readers to come their own conclusions.
“People are having these experiences, that’s indisputable…” Sinn said.
“So I think with that many people having experiences we should look at it more seriously, instead of this sort of reality TV, paranormal ghost hunting, really silly way that we’ve been approaching this subject.”