DAREarts Blog

Discipline, Action, Responsibility, Excellence

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DAREarts Leadership Awards 2017: Inspiring Strong Identities & Building a Better Future

The 2017 DAREarts Leadership Awards was a remarkable evening at The Carlu, co-hosted by Jeanne Beker CM and CBC Radio’s Piya Chattopadhyay, that raised $380,000 for DAREarts’ work with at-risk kids across Canada.

Her Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, inspired all of our guests, volunteers and youths with her presence and conversation.

This year’s 2017 DAREarts Cultural Award honoree, Antoni Cimolino, Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival, spoke brilliantly about Identity in Canada’s 150th birthday year and the Stratford – DAREarts partnership.  Mr. Cimolino stated, “It’s inspiring to see the impact of the arts on young imaginations. They help young people feel less isolated and more empowered. DAREarts gives us all hope for the future.”

The elegant decor was thanks to Sinclair Russell and Seneca College Visual Merchandising students.  Guests were greeted by young DAREarts graduates from Rexdale, thanks to Stock Transportation.  A dozen DAREarts youth alumni donned costumes from Stratford Festival’s world-class wardrobes, conversing with guests with Shakespearean panache.

Twelve-year-old singer Zander Marks wowed the 500 guests with his singing of ‘O Canada’. Elder Garry Sault of Mississaugas of New Credit FN conducted an opening prayer.  Performers honoured both Indigenous and Shakespearean creativity.

Left to Right: DAREarts Founder Marilyn Field, Mark LeBlanc of Northbridge, Patrik Montelibano, Yanzhi Chen of Scotiabank, Jaiden Downey, Jack Linklater Jr. & Tarik Muzaffar of TD Bank

The young 2017 Leadership Award awardees, introduced by their sponsor hosts, bravely took to the stage to share their stories of DAREarts helping to overcome challenges including physical and mental abuse, racism, sexism, losing a home to fire, bullying and depression.  Awardees were: Ivan Patrik Montelibano of Etobicoke presented by Northbridge Insurance; Jaiden Downey of Toronto presented by Scotiabank; Jack Linklater Jr. of Attawapiskat FN presented by TD Bank; Eric Shewaybick of Webequie FN presented by Noront Resources; Samira Henry of Etobicoke presented by Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Kiranpreet Kaur Bhangu of Etobicoke presented by Guy Carpenter; and Patina Prize recipient Elijah Brown of Scarborough. They truly enabled the guests to understand the power of the arts to save lives, and that their support ensures all our country’s children will flourish with DAREarts programs led by fine teachers and arts professionals.

Left to Right: Derek & Judy Patina, Elijah Brown, Eric Shewaybick, Kaitlyn Ferris of Noront Resources, Samira Henry & Maureen Jarvis of Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Mike Downie, accepting our Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of his brother Gord Downie, was motivating as a new friend for DAREarts and our work towards reconciliation. The gala featured a Downie Wenjack Legacy Room for all guests to visit, which displayed artwork and videography by northern DAREarts Indigenous youths.  Conceived by the Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief & DAREarts Director, Morley Googoo, everyone is invited to set up their own Legacy Room as a place to learn and share about Indigenous people of Canada so we can all work toward reconciliation.

A special thank you to those 43 guests who raised their hand to sponsor a DAREarts child.

A resounding thanks to all our guests, donors and volunteers for making such a triumphant night – all for the children.

DAREarts is grateful to its National Presenting Supporter, Northbridge Insurance and its Lead Supporters: Scotiabank, TD, Anne Livingston and The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Gold supporters are Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Guy Carpenter and Noront Resources.

We appreciate In-kind donations from Air Creebec, The Carlu, Freeman Audio Visual, daCunha Voyages, Seneca College, Stock Transportation as well as auction donors. Media supporters are CBCClassical 96.3 FM, Globe and Mail and JazzFM91.1.


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Dan Needles Sparks Holiday Cheer

Photos courtesy of Pete Paterson

On December 9th, 2016, DAREarts warmly welcomed 110 friends to Holiday Cheer, our biggest seasonal celebration yet!   Hosted at Chateau Windrush, home of Founder, Marilyn Field, and Vice-Chair, JC Pennie, the snowy night did not disappoint.  Eager ears celebrated the storytelling of nationally acclaimed author and playwright, Dan Needles. His message framed the evening beautifully as family, traditions and fun were memories he held most fondly from his childhood Christmases.

The evening’s musical entertainment was provided by east coast fiddler, Galen Sedlak, and pianist, Chris Bruder, culminating in everyone’s voices rising together in traditional carolling.  We took a moment to remember our pianist of 20 years, Ruth Morawetz, who passed away days before.

As both long-time and new supporters mingled, love for DAREarts and its work, empowering youth to ignite change, was in the air.  It was clearly evident in both the auction and gift buying and in the respect given to young DAREarts grads, Baaba and Hami, as they spoke of their life-changing moments through DAREarts.

The evening was topped off with the news that $15,481 was raised, thanks to Scotiabank Orangeville stepping up again with a matching donation of $5,000, and to the generosity of all those attending.

We sincerely thank all of our supporters of the evening, including Sarah Haney, Van Harten Surveying, Broadway Farms, Adamo Vineyards, Deborah Robinson and Paul McCague of McCague Borlak LLP, David Thomas of Resource Capital Funds, Heidi von der Gathen of Air & Earth Design, photographer Pete Paterson and Lavender Blue Catering.  We were honoured to have the company of His Worship Allen Thompson, Mayor of Caledon, and His Worship Jeremy Williams, Mayor of Orangeville, who both offered wisdom based on DARE values to the youth attending.

DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower at-risk young people to become leaders. Our lead sponsors are Northbridge Insurance, Scotiabank, TD Bank Groupand the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

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Celebrating DAREarts Volunteer Guru of Grandeur, Sinclair Russell!

Photo courtesy of Beth McBlain.

Sinclair celebrates DAREarts’ 20th year with Leadership Awards Committee Chair Eileen Crichton & DAREarts’ staff Suzanne Clark. Photo courtesy of Beth McBlain.

Our dear volunteer, Sinclair Russell, is celebrating a milestone year on Oct 5th and we would like to say Bravo! Let’s salute his talent and spirit of FUN and FUNDraising by raising a glass to his many years of  involvement in Toronto Charity and Society Event Style.*  What better way than a VIP event at Cirque Du Soleil!  Click here to see your VIP invitation which includes a tax receipt as well as parking, a red carpet reception with sipping and supping, best seats in the house and a lovely gift-to-go!

Over DAREarts’ 20 years of empowering at-risk kids, Sinclair has been our dedicated Design Guru making our Leadership Awards and other events truly glorious!  But he went even further to give back: in 2011 Sinclair joined our team of teachers and artist-educators and headed to Webequie First Nation to work with Indigenous youths as they designed and sewed their own buck skin vests.

Professionally, his talents have contributed to Simpsons, Eatons, Estee Lauder, Fairweather / Dylex, Seven Continents, Display Arts of Toronto, Robert Gage Salon, Museum Tavern, many other retailers and publications. His talents took him abroad for 20 years working globally that won him awards and acclaim. He now lives in Minden, ON where he devotes his time and talents to many fortunate local efforts.

*Some of his lucky collaborators:
Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, Mt Sinai Hospital, DAREarts, WestPark Health, The Yonge Street Mission, Baycrest, The Griffin Trust, Canadian Opera Company, National Ballet School, Stratford Festival, Best Buddies, PetSOS,  The Fashion Group, The Brazilian Ball (x 12), and many society hosts, fine friends and his loving family members.

Sinclair with DAREarts Leadership Awards volunteers, including Seneca College students and Northbridge Insurance employees who generously contributed their time and talent!

Sinclair handwaves with DAREarts Leadership Awards volunteers, including Seneca College students and Northbridge Insurance employees who generously contributed their time and talent! Photo courtesy of Amanda Robinson.


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The 2016 DAREarts Leadership Awards Triumphs Human Spirit

The 2016 DAREarts Leadership Awards was a remarkable evening at The Carlu, hosted by Jeanne Beker that raised over $325,000 for DAREarts empowering at-risk kids and brought young people from around the world to celebrate 20 years.  Six youths were recognized for exercising the DAREarts values of Discipline, Action, Responsibility and Excellence in their lives.  The students spoke from the heart.

Setting the stage, Prime Minister Trudeau sent a video message to the youths and DAREarts.  He said, “… Never underestimate the power of art.  It inspires us, it challenges us, it can push us to be better, or shock us into action. It can be beautiful, it can be angry, it can even be both at the same time. But mostly, it can change the world.”

Ryan Durham-Sanca, 18, was introduced by Mark LeBlanc for Northbridge Insurance. Ryan won against countless moves, family addiction problems and ADHD. He volunteers at DAREarts’ summer camps, is graduating from high school, plans to go to Police College, and can’t wait to someday be the best dad ever. “DAREarts helped me make friends, find myself and smile. At DAREarts, I realized I had a choice in how I acted and a responsibility to be my best self.” 

Taelor Heather Licardo, 15, introduced by Yanzhi Chen for Scotiabank, is originally from Serpent River First Nation. Before DAREarts, she was in the principal’s office daily for bullying. Because of DAREarts’ emphasis on Respect, she is now a role model at school, a Master Corporal in Cadets, and aims to be a police officer or a lawyer. “My passion is to make sure that DAREarts is within me all day every day.”

Delenn Kershaw, 15, introduced by Alan Convery for TD, explained how DAREARTS helped her tackle depression that began when her dad died and encouraged us all accept mental illness as something that can be overcome. “This program should be available to all young people across Canada and in the Territories, so that they don’t turn to a life of crime or hurt themselves.”

Dante Scholar, 17, introduced by Judy and Derek Patina, is looking forward to attending Humber College next year, but he often cannot afford bus tickets to school. He loves sports, mentors younger DAREarts kids and dreams of being a lawyer. “I want to do pro bono work and help the community.”  Before he started DAREarts in gr. 6, his anger frequently landed him in the principal’s office. “DAREarts gave me a better outlook. Instead of feeling bad about being different, I learned not being like others actually makes me a better leader.”

Djordje Lukic, 17, was introduced by Jonathan Stephenson for Guy Carpenter. Originally from Serbia, Djordje overcame anxiety, achieved self-discipline and discovered his identity as an artist through DAREarts. He has been accepted into the Paris School of Art in France next year.  DAREarts taught me that I can control my life and that I can take action and work very hard to change it for the better.”

Jada Sofea, 15, from the northern First Nation of Webequie could not attend and so Kaitlyn Ferris and Lead Teacher Laura MacKinnon read her speech. A straight-A student, Jada is taking charge of her own destiny by moving to Thunder Bay to complete high school, go to Lakehead University and become a lawyer. Her passion is hockey!  “DAREarts provides the kids in our community variety, exposure to new things and a chance for us to learn and work as a team.”

Senator Murray Sinclair, introduced by DAREarts Founder Marilyn Field, was also honoured for leading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He spoke to the youth: …”You will face those times when you will wonder whether or not this is the thing that you really should be doing….  Just remember that there are people who have been there before you and learn from them.  Learn what it means to be true to yourself – and to live in balance with all that you bring to this world.”  He then reminded us all that we must provide opportunities for our young people, because opportunities – especially when life is hard – provide hope.

To celebrate DAREarts’ 20th birthday, auctioneer, Matthew Penstone presented a special ‘Birthday DARE’ for folks to sponsor a child at $1,000.   Twenty-eight generous individuals took that challenge!  Other auction items helped raise another $43,000 – from Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland to Canoe North’s trip on the Yukon to Northbridge’s box at the Air Canada Centre to Air Canada’s flight simulator to painted paddles by artist Gerda Neubacher and Charles Pachter.

Since 1996, DAREarts’ unique approach of using the arts to empower at-risk kids has unlocked the potential of over 200,000 youth.  By engaging in hands-on arts workshops, they develop confidence, courage and leadership skills to ignite change in their lives with hope for their future. Be sure to read this captivating ‘Huffington Post’ story by a first-year grad.

Enjoy CBC Radio’s Mother’s Day interview with founder Marilyn Field and grad Dante Scholar.

DAREarts’ work is made possible through partnerships with many leading Canadian corporations, artists, arts organizations and educators across the country. We are especially grateful to Northbridge Insurance for supporting DAREarts nationally, and to lead sponsors, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group and the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

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DAREarts’ 2nd Annual First Roots Feast – A Circle of Friends

Circle of Friends FRF2

The seeds are sprouting! February 25, 2016, building on last year’s event, DAREarts’ annual fundraising event First Roots Feast attracted more people and businesses from the Newmarket and surrounding area, reaching out with the hand of friendship and unified support for Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit children.

DAREarts Founder Marilyn Field

DAREarts Founder & President, Marilyn Field

“The remarkable commitment of this community, both young and younger, to reach out and help give equal opportunity to our Indigenous Canadians sets a standard of excellence for the rest of our country.”  – DAREarts Founder Marilyn Field

The combined efforts of DAREarts First Roots Feast Coordinator Gary Curran, Auction Coordinator and Graphic Designer Sandra Turnsek, Huron Heights Secondary School in Newmarket, along with our DAREarts team resulted in a spectacular evening, and we are so grateful for their efforts.

First Roots Coordinator Gary Curran

Gary Curran, First Roots Feast Committee Chair

Huron Heights Secondary School Hospitality rose to the occasion once again, and this year they outdid themselves. They prepared a sumptuous Indigenous-inspired meal, with ingredients that originate on Turtle Island. Area merchants, grocers and businesses helped offset the cost of the food. We enjoyed pickerel, elk stew, three sisters soup and of course, bannock. Huron Heights students and the PEACE Club served the meal up to an appreciative audience. After all, the real star of the evening was the feast itself.

We are grateful to Chef Emidio Amicucci and O’Malley’s Catering and Rental Ltd. for their exemplary service. Chi miigwetch to Madsen’s Gardens for their beautiful, green, warm venue and big hearts. And to the Vendors and silent auction donators, we are truly grateful. Your contributions are keenly appreciated, and we hope you’ll return next year.

Elder Cliff Standingready

Elder Cliff Standingready

Elder Cliff Standingready and Traditional Dancer Laura Spring inspired us all with their traditional dance and spoken wisdom:

“What you are doing is important. I’m one of the children who survived the residential school legacy. Reconciliation is going to take a long time. Seven generations. To quote one of the people I witnessed at the TRC gatherings, ‘I was a six year old child. You need to reconcile with me.’ And this is where it starts. Tonight is a beginning, and I want to thank you for being a part of this.” – Elder Cliff Standingready

Glenn Marais and Cathy Elliott sing the youth of Webequie's song, "We Are One"

Glenn Marais and Cathy Elliott sing the youth of Webequie’s song, “We Are One”

Glenn Marais and DAREarts First Roots Associate Cathy Elliott sang the song Glenn wrote with the high school students in the remote northern community of Webequie First Nation just two weeks earlier.

Everyone who was able clasped hands and ended up on the dance floor in a Round Dance, led by Laura Spring. It was a moment we’ll never forget, a night we hope to repeat, and a gathering that will indeed spout even more spectacular events in the future.

The Huron Heights Hospitality program students

The Huron Heights Hospitality program students

Indigenous kids in remote First Nations depend on funds raised through events like this to participate in the successful DAREarts First Roots Aboriginal program.

If you’d like to host a DAREarts First Roots Feast in your community, please contact us! We, together, can be a part of Canada’s Reconciliation process: to learn about, connect with and promote our Indigenous communities and their children’s future.  It may take seven years, but with your help, those years could be the positive change needed for thousands of deserving kids.

All photos courtesy Pete Paterson.

DAREarts First Roots Feast raised over $6,000.00 that night. We could not do this without the generosity of these listed below and many others:

Guests took part in a joyful round dance together.

Guests took part in a joyful round dance together.

DAREarts First Roots Feast Supporters:

Best Western Voyageur Place Hotel
Carron Farms Ltd.
Ce De Candy Company Ltd.
Copari Meats
Discount Car & Truck Rentals
Holburne Mushroom Farm
Huron Heights S.S. Hospitality Department (Laura Butler, Marilee Sadler)
Huron Heights S.S. Peace Club (Bill Havercroft)
Janse Greenhouses F & L

Madsen's Garden, the perfect setting for an early spring event!

Madsen’s Greenhouse, the perfect setting for an early spring event!

Karin Stiege (Floral Centrepieces)
Linda Houston, (Staff & Students)
Madsen’s Greenhouse
Minuteman Press
Nature’s Emporium
O’Malley’s Catering and Rental Ltd.
Off the Hook Fish Market
Steve & Adele’s No Frills
Vince’s Country Market

DAREarts First Roots Feast Silent Auction and Store:

Laura Spring, Women's Traditional Dance

Laura Spring, Women’s Traditional Dance

Art & Gift Gallery
Awo’kwejit Hemp Creations
Donald Chretien
Gela Rohde
Gloria Hope
Holland Marsh Wineries
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Home Depot Aurora
Home Hardware Newmarket
Joseph’s & Peter’s Hair Design
Karin Stiege
Anna Leeming
Madeline Montpool
Metzger Studio
Pamela Leudke
Purls of Warmth

Elder Cliff Standingready, Men's Traditional Dance

Elder Cliff Standingready, Men’s Traditional Dance

Royal Manor Bed & Breakfast
S.D. Curran
Sandra Turnsek
Shaw Festival
Terry and Phyllis Hutchings
Visual & Performing Arts Newmarket
Westview Golf Club Ltd.

DAREarts and First Roots Feast Team:

Marilyn Field – DAREarts Founder
Suzanne Clark – DAREarts Executive Director
Cathy Elliott – DAREarts First Roots Program Associate
Gary Curran – DAREarts First Roots Feast Coordinator
Sandra Turnsek – First Roots Feast Auction Coordinator & Graphic Artist
Laura Butler – HHSS Hospitality Dept. Coordinator
Madeline Montpool – First Roots Feast Volunteer Coordinator

Cathy Elliott with Spirit Plate

Cathy Elliott with Spirit Plate

Bonnie Masina – Volunteer Coordinator
Brenda Norton – DAREarts Director of Operations
Lisa Norton – DAREarts Program Coordinator
Debra Walker – Ticket Sales

DAREarts Overview:
DAREarts is a Canadian charitable organization that uses educational experiences in the arts to empower children and youth facing life challenges, with confidence, courage and leadership skills to unlock their potential and ignite change in their lives and communities.

DAREarts: ‘Igniting Change’ in At-risk Children: Discipline, Action, Responsibility, Excellence

www.darearts.com | 3042 Concession Road 3 Adjala, RR 1, Palgrave, ON L0N 1P0 CANADA

info@darearts.com | 1.888.540.2787 | 905.729.0097 Canadian Charitable Registration No. 88691 7764 RR0002

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DAREarts Celebrates its 10th Annual Holiday Cheer in the Country

Festive treats by Lavender Blue Catering. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Festive treats by Lavender Blue Catering. Photo by Pete Paterson.

On Friday, December 4th, DAREarts hosted our 10th Annual Holiday Cheer celebration. Thanks to our patrons and supporters, this year’s evening was our most successful ever!

Hosted at the picturesque Chateau Windrush in Hockley Valley, patrons were treated to sweets and savouries, mulled cider and wine, and an unforgettable evening of music, joy, and giving. Eight-six patrons, including Mayor Mary Small Brett of Adjala-Tosorontio and Mayor Jeremy Williams of Orangeville, were in attendance.

Scotiabank staff Hilda Cartwright, Danila Marric, and Lucy Sanzo were wonderful volunteers throughout the evening! Photo by Pete Paterson.

Scotiabank staff Hilda Cartwright, Danila Marric, and Lucy Sanzo were wonderful volunteers throughout the evening! Photo by Pete Paterson.

We would like to thank Scotiabank for generously matching the evening’s donations, Van Harten Surveying for sponsoring the evening, Silk Arias for their donation of luxurious silk scarves, and Lavender Blue Catering for their continuing excellence as the caterers of the evening.

The entertainment was superb, and put everyone in the holiday spirit. The Westman Family, brothers Hardy and Liam plus their mother Dini, performed intricate and beautiful pieces on the cello and violin. Accompanying on piano was Ruth Morawetz of Canadian Cabaret. Up-and-coming bass baritone Brenden Friesen also wowed the audience with his haunting vocals.

The Westman family of Dini, Liam, and Hardy truly captivated the audience. Photo by Pete Paterson.

The Westman family of Dini, Liam, and Hardy truly captivated the audience. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Pianist Ruth Morawetz accompanies Bass Baritone Brenden Frieson. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Ruth Morawetz accompanies Brenden Frieson. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Other contributors for the evening included Gallery Gemma, Stefanie Curran, and Cathy Elliott, who donated their fashionable creations to sell alongside our beautiful DAREarts Cards made by children in support of DAREarts’ Aboriginal First Roots Program, and Pete Paterson for sharing his world-renowned photography skills to help capture the evening’s magic.

DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower youth at-risk to become leaders. Our lead supporters are Northbridge Insurance, Guy Carpenter, Scotiabank, and the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the government of Ontario.

Photo by Pete Paterson.

Photo by Pete Paterson.

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The 13th Annual DAREarts Leadership Awards

The 13th annual DAREarts Leadership Awards raised $240,900 to benefit 13,000 Canadian children in under-served communities. The fundraising gala, presented by Northbridge Insurance and hosted by CTV Canada AM’s Marci Ien, was held on April 16, 2015 at the Allstream Centre in Toronto and attended by 350 guests.

During the evening, six courageous DAREarts youth received Leadership Awards with scholarships to continue their studies. Each youth was introduced by Presenting Sponsor, Northbridge Insurance and Lead Supporters Guy Carpenter, Scotiabank, TD, and Noront Resources. Judy Patina presented the Patina Prize. Each youth recounted, on-stage, their personal life challenges and how they are igniting positive change with DAREarts. The youths were met with standing ovations from the guests who were astounded by their courage, poise and achievements.


Left to Right: Mark LeBlanc of Northbridge Insurance presents to Kohilan M., Syzan Talo of Guy Carpenter presents to Dante S., Yanzhi Chen of Scotiabank presents to Michelle K., Hamida Sachedina of TD Bank presents to Blake P., Kaitlyn Ferris of Noront Resources presents to Judith B., and Judy Patina presents the Patina Prize for Elizabeth W.

Fashion broadcaster, Jeanne Beker C.M., and Olympian and Aboriginal spokesperson, Waneek Horn-Miller, were also honoured with the 2015 DAREarts Cultural Award. “Jeanne and Waneek are true Canadian role models,” said DAREarts Founder, Marilyn Field. “Like DAREarts, these women motivate, empower and inspire excellence in the lives of those around them.”

The AFN’s National Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde congratulates Judith B. from Webequie FN

DAREarts Vice-Chair and Executive Vice-President of Northbridge Insurance, Mark LeBlanc, commented, “Feedback from our guests was incredible. They were moved by the DAREarts children and the truly inspiring stories that they shared. The heartfelt words from our two honourees resonated with all in attendance.”

DAREarts also paid tribute to its board Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of Noront Resources, Paul Semple, who passed away the previous day.

DAREarts thanks the many volunteers who made this evening such a resounding success.


Left to Right: Waneek Horn-Miller, Marci Ien of CTV Canada AM, DAREarts Founder Marilyn Field, and Jeanne Beker