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Comedy, Chance, chainsaw to raise roof

Morinville hosts FUNdraiser for St. Jean Baptiste Church rebuild
0305 SJBFundraiser juggling sup
HOT STUFF — Juggler Jordan Imgrund-Harvey, shown here, is one of the many Morinville performers taking part in the St. Jean Baptiste Rebuild FUNdraiser Extravaganza at the Community Cultural Centre on May 14, 2022. The variety show aims to raise funds to rebuild the St. Jean Baptiste Church. JORDAN IMGRUND-HARVEY/Photo

A star-studded cast will be cracking wise and catching knives in Morinville this month to help rebuild the town’s historic church.

Singers, actors, and entertainers from across Morinville will be at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre May 14 for the St. Jean Baptiste Rebuild FUNdraiser Extravaganza.

The 114-year-old St. Jean Baptiste Church in Morinville burned down in June 2021. Community members are now rallying funds to rebuild it, with some $249,000 raised as of April 27.

The parish will hold a night of entertainment May 14 as its first big fundraising event, said fundraising committee spokesperson Gerry Gaetz. Guests will experience a three-hour variety show put on by a host of Morinville talents including the Chance quartet, Rob Kaup and Danielle Edge of Two Bad Apples, and the Morinville Community High School Drama Llamas.

Guests can also enter a 50/50 draw and bid on various items (including a gourmet meal prepared by Bishop Paul Terrio and Father Trini Pinca) in an online and in-person auction, Gaetz said. Proceeds from the draw and auctions will go toward the church reconstruction fund.

Comedian, juggler

Headlining the Extravaganza will be veteran comedian and Morinville resident Don Burnstick. A Cree from Alexander First Nation and residential school survivor, he uses comedy to talk about challenging social issues such as racism.

Burnstick said last year was a bad time, what with churches being burned and hundreds of unmarked graves being found at residential school sites across Canada. Still, these are important issues, and it is important for Canadians to address them.

“My parents were married at the [St. Jean Baptiste] church. I’ll do my part for reconciliation.”

Comedy helps break down barriers and lets us talk about tough issues, Burnstick said — look at how everyone started discussing toxic masculinity when Chris Rock made that joke at the Oscars and got slapped by Will Smith. Likewise, he talks about addictions and life on the street by finding humour in his own experience with both.

“That’s where the really hard laughter comes from, is pain,” he said.

Burnstick said he isn’t sure how, or if, he will address last year’s church fires in his performance, as he never plans his acts in advance.

“I’m not going to delve into big controversial issues. I’m just there to entertain people.”

He encouraged guests to come out to support a good cause and aid in reconciliation.

“There’s many people who grew up in St. Albert and have never been to a First Nation,” he said, and who see First Nations reserves as some kind of Forbidden Zone.

“For reconciliation, we need to find places and not just events where we can come together.”

Also on stage will be Morinville native and juggler Jordan Imgrund-Harvey, who will perform tricks with balls, clubs, knives, and a chainsaw.

“That was the church where we had so many celebrations and held so many great community events,” he said of last year’s fire.

“To have such a beautiful church that’s been there I think 114 years burn down, that hurts a community.”

Imgrund-Harvey said there is no trick to his ability to lob sharp objects without grievous bodily harm besides lots of practice.

Gaetz said tickets to the show are $60 to $500, a portion of which (everything beyond the first $40) is a tax-deductible donation. About half of the 400 tickets available had been sold as of last week. Tickets are available through ticketpro.ca (search for “SJB Rebuild FUNdraiser”), the Community Cultural Centre box office, and at 1-866-908-9090. Call 780-939-4401 for details.


Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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