Feel Good Sunday Country Gospel Show aims to support Wakaw Lions Foodbank

Photo from Donny Parenteau’s Facebook page. Prince Albert’s Donny Parenteau is among the list of performers taking the stage for The Feel Good Sunday Country Gospel Show on April 14. The gospel show will help raise funds for the Wakaw Lions Food Bank.

Upcoming charity fundraiser for Wakaw Lions Foodbank

Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wakaw Recorder

A fundraising concert has been scheduled for Sunday, April 14 from 2-4 p.m. in support the Wakaw Lions Food Bank.

The Feel Good Sunday Country Gospel Show will feature a variety of local performers including Donny Parenteau, Julianna Parenteau, Wilf Savisky, Irene Savisky, Al Rybchinski, Janice Trudel, the Trudel Family, Carmen Robertson, and Lisa Anderson.

The doors of the Wakaw Rec Centre at 201 Main Street, will open at 1:15 pm and during the intermission refreshments and desserts will be available. Admission is $20 per person and tickets can be purchased by reaching out to Al by phone at 306-233-3084 or by texting him at 306-981-9400 or texting Terry at 306-233-7909.

Attendees can also bring non-perishable food items to the show to donate to the Food Bank and contribute to a ‘toonie pot’ that will go to the Food Bank to purchase items that may be in short supply.

Rybchinski came up with the idea for the charity event after a discussion with Lions members about growing food insecurity in Saskatchewan.

“As the cost-of-living increases, the demand is greater than ever for Food Banks in Canada this year compared to the last few years,” Rybchinski wrote on his Facebook page.

The Wakaw Lions Food Bank has been addressing the need for immediate emergency food support in Wakaw for over ten years. They have also provided support to residents of neighbouring villages and rural areas when they have been made aware.

For those who just need some help to get-by to the next pay cheque or those who have had something unfortunate happen and need some immediate support, a simple call to one of the local Lions members is all that is needed. Confidentiality is key and names are not shared with other agencies or people.

In 2022, the Wakaw Lions distributed 43 food hampers during the year and 30 Christmas hampers. Although many people find it hard to believe that food security is a concern in town, the Wakaw Lions reported that they served more people in 2023 than in 2022, and the current cost-of-living does not lead one to expect any improvement in 2024.

As was said last year during one of the food drives held for the Lions Food Bank, there are roughly 1,000 people living in Wakaw, if 80 per cent of the people in town donated one non-perishable food item, it would fill their cupboards for quite a few months, that is something to think about.

The names and talents of most of the performers are familiar to people in the area and their willingness to participate in and lend their talents to fundraising endeavours is as great as their talent. The Trudel Family are a family of incredibly talented musicians and singers who have shared their gifts with audiences around the province. The family’s love of music is evident whenever they hit the stage.

Performing selections of classic country, bluegrass, and gospel, Janice and Colin will showcase their beautiful blend of harmonies along with daughters Janaya and Jollisa. Touring and performing as a family as the children grew into adulthood was “one of the most rewarding things we do together,” Janice said on their website. They have been nominated for numerous awards and have won the Saskatchewan Country Music Association Country Gospel Album of the Year, SCMA Group of the Year, as well as the Country Gospel Music Association’s Vocal Group of the Year.

Carmen Robertson is currently the Vice President of the Prince Albert Country Music Association and has been performing since 1989. He has played in numerous local bands over the years and appeared in several Country North Shows. He has just finished recording his first single called, “Last, Last Call.”

Wilf Savisky has been playing music for most of his life and is well-known for playing at weddings in the area over the years. Wilf plays both the guitar and accordion and played with the Cotton Pickers and various other groups as well as regularly playing with friend Al Rybchinski and appearing on Tribal Trails with his wife Irene. Irene learned to play the keyboard during COVID, and she and Wilf perform at Seniors’ residences throughout the area. In April, Wilf and Irene will be recording a new gospel CD called Miracles.

Lisa Anderson has been singing for as long as she can remember. Beginning with church choirs, she has been in a number of praise, folk, gospel, and bluegrass groups. 

Julianna Parenteau was nominated for Emerging Artist of the Year (18 & under) at the Saskatchewan Indigenous Music Awards last fall. She is the daughter of an enormously proud dad, Donny Parenteau, and is eagerly pursuing her own musical career.

Donny Parenteau needs little introduction. As a Métis, Donny’s heritage goes all the way back to Louis Riel and the Resistance of 1885. As a musician his heritage goes back to his grandfather who was a fiddle player and supported his family by playing for dances and performances in and around Prince Albert.

Donny has said that his love for music began when he joined the school band, but it was when he picked up the fiddle that he found a connection to his soul. Parenteau spent twelve years touring with American country artist, Neal McCoy, performing on The Grand Ole Opry and sharing the stage with country music greats such as Charlie Daniels, Merle Haggard, Tim McGraw, Shania Twain, and Reba McEntire to name a few. Returning to Saskatchewan, Donny continues to perform, teach, and inspire students at his Donny Parenteau School of Music, and spread an anti-bullying message at schools across Western Canada.

Allan Rybchinski grew up in the RM of Fish Creek and returned to Wakaw following his retirement from the RCMP in 2008. He has been performing since the early 1960s and has worked with numerous artists, playing wedding dances, anniversaries, and graduations as well as many charity and Gospel events.

Al is a volunteer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, providing musical entertainment in various Seniors’ residences. He has worked with Wilf Savisky as a duo. Over the years the two friends have graced the stage of Telemiracle, recorded a couple of albums with some former Nashville musicians, and brought a variety of music to both senior’s care homes and senior’s centres.

Rybchinski said he would love to see the Rec Centre filled to capacity on April 14 and with the line-up of performers it should be possible. The Lions as always, appreciate the support the community continues to give to all of their initiatives.

The long-term service to the community that the Lions Food Bank has provided could not be done without the dedication of its volunteers. Lion Rita Goller-Varga is a dedicated organizer of the Lions Food Bank who, along with Lions Terry and Darla, can be reached at any time. To reach out for assistance, contact Rita at 306-233-7783, or Terry at 306-233-7909, or Darla at 306-233-7908.