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Newfoundland choir feels snubbed by Olympic offer

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  • Rob Schmidt
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/newfoundland-c hoir-feels-snubbed-by-olympic-offer/article1341041/ Newfoundland choir feels
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2009

      Newfoundland choir feels snubbed by Olympic offer

      Group of young singers expected to perform at opening ceremonies. Instead
      they'll be part of an aboriginal showcase

      Marsha Lederman and Justine Hunter

      Vancouver and Victoria - From Wednesday's Globe and Mail Published on
      Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009 8:53PM EDT Last updated on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009
      11:53PM EDT

      For two years, the young members of the Se't A'newey Performance Choir in
      Conne River, Nfld., had envisioned themselves singing at the opening
      ceremony of the 2010 Olympic Games in front of a promised television
      audience of some two billion people.

      Instead, the children have been offered a spot at an Olympic-related
      aboriginal showcase, with an estimated audience of "tens of thousands" - an
      offer made Tuesday by British Columbia's Minister of Aboriginal Relations
      and Reconciliation, George Abbott.

      And their choir director doesn't like the government's compromise solution
      one bit.

      "This tiny community is extremely concerned over the long-term effect this
      will have on these impressionable youth," Brenda Jeddore wrote in an e-mail
      Tuesday to the Opposition New Democratic Party. "We are not impressed with
      'band aid' solutions because we deserve to be granted the 'promise' that was
      [publicly] uttered by Premier [Gordon] Campbell."

      The remote Newfoundland community was meeting Tuesday night to discuss Mr.
      Abbott's invitation.

      That alleged promise is at the centre of a cross-country he said-she said
      controversy. Mrs. Jeddore and the band chief, Misel Joe, insist they heard
      Mr. Campbell invite the children's choir to perform at the 2010 Olympics,
      after he heard them sing at a gala in Corner Brook more than two years ago.
      They say the invitation was also witnessed by Newfoundland Premier Danny
      Williams, and others.

      Mr. Campbell remembers it differently. "I said to the choir: 'You know,
      wouldn't it be great if you could sing at the Olympics?' Not the opening
      ceremonies; I never had any control over the opening ceremonies."

      But whatever the choir heard, it was enough to launch them into more than
      two years of preparations for the performance. Then last week the band chief
      found out that the choir, having had no official contact with VANOC, was not
      actually scheduled to participate in the Olympics.

      Enter Mr. Abbott, who was left to patch things over. He contacted Conne
      River's Chief Joe on Tuesday with the offer to perform in Vancouver at the
      aboriginal showcase at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre - one of the focal points
      of the Olympics, Mr. Abbott said. "I suspect there will be tens of thousands
      of people who will enjoy the entertainment there," he told reporters after
      speaking with the chief. "It's going to be an awesome showcase . at the
      heart of the Olympics."

      Mr. Abbott said he has confirmed the venue and dates and has found a B.C.
      choir that wants to host the Conne River performers. "If they are coming to
      Vancouver, we can start to pin down some of the logistics," he said.

      But Mrs. Jeddore - who says attendance at choir practice has fallen from 100
      per cent to 50 per cent in the wake of the news - is stuck on what she sees
      as a retracted promise. "Mr. Campbell made such a powerful impression on
      these children that they 'still see his face telling us please come to my
      province and perform at the opening of the 2010 Olympic Games.' How can so
      many people misinterpret the statement of one man?" she wrote in her e-mail
      before signing off "A very dejected choral director."
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