After being diagnosed with cancer over a year ago, Rhonda Carriere was just thrilled to have one chance to sing at Voices of the North.
Getting two changes seemed like a dream come true, but this year that’s exactly what happened.
The Muskoday First Nation resident was given four to six months to live after being diagnosed with cancer in January 2019. However, on Feb. 15, 2020, she was up on stage with friends and family performing at Voices of the North.
“I loved every minute of it,” Carriere chuckled following her performance at the Exhibition Centre. “I’ve always enjoyed singing. I just wanted to do it on stage and do it with a live band. I usually just sing karaoke.”
After her diagnosis, Carriere began compiling a bucket list of things she wanted to do with her friends and family. Many of the items on last list had a musical bent to them, like attending concerts from some of her favourite bands. Performing on stage at Voices of the North was one of those items she fulfilled in 2019. When the 2020 show rolled around, organizers invited her back for another appearance, which she eagerly did.
“It just made me happy because I know she loves being up there,” said Sara Daniels, Rhonda’s daughter. “That’s her thing.”
Carriere and her family are long-time supporters of Voices of the North, something organizer Sheryl Kimbley was quick to point out during a brief pause in the performances. She started volunteering to help out her cousin, Bernice Sayese, who originally founded the show, then kept coming back year after year because of the family atmosphere.
It’s that atmosphere she wanted to enjoy again one last time. Carriere was taking chemotherapy treatments but eventually stopped. Instead, she turned her focus to making the last months as meaningful as possible.
“I said my body can’t take it anymore. I just want to lie out the rest of my days with my daughter and my granddaughter, and live life to the fullest,” she explained.
She also hopes to inspire people who watched or heard her perform at Voices of the North. Her message?
“Just go out and be yourself,” she explained. “Be strong. Pray for everybody. Pray for yourself. Just be strong and be yourself.”