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"Cassandra's Lilacs"- The "Gentle the condition" Concert

The Garceau Foundation and the Institute for Public Affairs present the "Gentle the Condition" concert

Beryl Wajsman

1 September 2008

“This story shall the good man teach his son;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
This day shall gentle the condition;”
~ Henry V

Foundation founder and president Brigitte Garceau

Beryl Wajsman and Dennis Trudeau

Director Brian Morel, Brigitte Garceau,
Beryl Wajsman

To view the videos of the concert in four parts
please click on the links below

Ranee Lee and her band performing








The most satisfying thing for me about combining the social activism of the Institute for Public Affairs and the journalistic advocacy of media is the ability to help more people more effectively. It has also brought many more people together to do good and gentle the condition. Among the cases and causes we have been able to tackle, no issues are as poignant as those that deal with the 3h’s of society’s ills. Health, hunger and homelessness. As much as the Institute has done – particularly in expanding Moisson Montreal’s capacities, sending paramedics to the SCLC’s Delta Relief Project during Hurricane Katrina, assisting Toronto’s “Lawyers feed the homeless” program, helping defray expenses for poor kids who needed surgery – there is always more to do. And when a plight is brought to your attention, you cannot remain idle.

Over the past year activist attorney Brigitte Garceau brought three organizations, and their needs, to my attention.  I have been able to focus a spotlight on their urgent agendas in the press and, working in concert with our network of social activists, we have been able to provide needed moral and material support. Brigitte feels, and quite rightly in my view, that these groups not only excel in what they do but – taken together – are emblematic of the most vital concerns on the docket of social justice in our community.

Dr. Nicholas Steinmetz’ and Dr.Gilles Julien’s Fondation pour la promotion de la pédiatrie sociale tackles the health needs of poor children. Helping thousands in Montreal’s poorest areas of Côte-des-Neiges and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, the Fondation cares for the physical, psychological and educational needs of children who are products of underprivileged homes. It not only provides immediate help, but follows the children through years of schooling to ensure that the work is having an effect. It is a totally holistic approach to childhood development. (see “It does take a village” at : www.themetropolitain.ca)

The Maison du partage d’Youville is a community kitchen and food bank that has served hundreds every week over the past twenty-five years in Pointe St-Charles, Verdun and Little Burgundy. It is straining for space and resources and is in desperate need of funds to move to larger, but cheaper, premises so that it can continue its critical work.

De la Rue…à la Réussite, takes homeless men and women and provides them with the necessary tools and employment opportunities to reintergrate into the workforce. This remarkable organization, founded by the indefatigable Sue McDougall and her late husband Jean-Pierre Chartrand, doesn’t just get people on their feet, it gets them back into life. It understands that it’s about more than just getting people a paycheque; it’s about giving them back their purpose.

Brigitte Garceau wanted to give structure to the help she was bringing to these groups. She realized that many were missing the kind of professional skills she was able to organize and channel. She created The Garceau Foundation out of a desire to provide the highest level of financial, professional and organizational support to frontline community action and social service groups tackling these, our most daunting, challenges…health, hunger and homelessness. The need for the most effective intervention on behalf of these groups, already operating with strained resources, will become ever more acute.

Ours is a nation of wealth, but with only a thin veneer of affluence. Recently released government studies demonstrate that one-third of our urban households live below the poverty line and that the median household income in Canada has increased just slightly more than $100 a year over the past twenty-five years. Government programs do not always meet local needs and more and more non-governmental organizations are filling the gaps with more and more Canadians turning to them for help.

Brigitte believes none of us can stay uninvolved. Building on the philosophy that to whom much is given, much is expected, she is bringing years of experience in political and community networking and fund-raising to bear on this mission. The Foundation’s first major project, produced in co-operation with the Institute, is the “Cassandra’s Lilacs” concert.

Inspired by a real-life Cassandra - Garceau’s ten year old daughter - who wanted to do something to help the underprivileged, the symbolism of the lilac is poignant and pithy. Like our children, the most vulnerable and fragile among us, each lilac flower alone is beautiful but fragile. But together in a bough, lilacs are not only fragrant, but strong. Each child alone is fragile. But if we look at them together, we are compelled by their needs and find the strength to accomplish the unimaginable. Together, we can gentle the condition.

This concert seeks to raise money for, and awareness of, the three unique organizations in the Montreal community that I have outlined above.

This event will take place under the patronage of a very special Presidente d’honneur - Andrée Ruffo. For decades Ruffo has been the outstanding voice in Québec, and perhaps unparalleled in the country, in defense of our most vulnerable and disenfranchised. Her particular passion was young people.  As a youth court judge she not only showed compassion from the bench but commitment in the public arena. Few were as brave as she in demonstrating that when the system fails we as citizens must step in. Her book, “Parce que je crois aux enfants” is not only an indictment of apathy but an eloquent appeal for action.

This concert will be held Thursday, October 2nd, 2008 ay 7.30 pm at Théâtre St-Denis. Among the entertainers will be Chantal Chamandy, Stephanie Biddle from New York, Lorraine Klaasen, Ashley King, Sandy Brandone, Carolina, the Imani Family and Full Gospel Church’s Children’s Choir and international human rights activist and former Miss World Canada Nazanin Afshin-Jam will be coming in from Vancouver to be with us. Other stars will be announced shortly. There will also be an after-party at the popular night club, Lamouche.


We are proud to help The Garceau Foundation make this special evening a great success. I am reaching out to all of you to buy as many tickets to this great event as you can. All contributions are deductible and tax receipts will be sent out. The $250 VIP ticket entitles you to attend the after party at LaMouche, just one block south of the theater on St-Denis and St-Catherine. General admission tickets are $150.

The concert will not only be about entertainment. You will meet the people behind these groups and you will meet the people they help. We hope you will be touched as you meet the most humble among us who cannot secure the preferences of the privileged for themselves. We hope you will be touched enough to give of your time and talent as well as your treasure.

This is what well known designer Kevin Allwood has done. Despite his busy schedule in Montreal and L.A. working with the likes of Charlize Theron and Katherine Heigl, Kevin is dedicating himself as artistic director for this concert. He is also bringing some of his incredibly talented team from the States to help co-ordinate the evening.

I assure you that the music, the words and the images of this concert will pierce your heart. We want you to take away from it a greater ability to see the world through the eyes of its victims. And to understand intuitively, that the less educated are not less intelligent and that the less affluent are not any less human. That is what Cassandra’s Lilacs “Gentle the Condition” concert is all about, and what the Garceau Foundation seeks to achieve.


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