Sabrina Johnson was one of those constants encouraging local music and musicians for the better part of the last two decades. She’d be a regular at the Forgotten Rebels, Lorrainas, Vapids shows and more... but real life oft guides people in different directions. After getting married, Johnson would be less of a constant but with her current day job, she's now afforded the opportunity to bring her music fan and social worker lives together with a fundraising concert.
“I’ve always had a love for music going all the way back to high school with concert band but as you get older, you go out to see some bands and that ends up encompassing your life,” offers local music fan and now crisis support worker Sabrina Johnson. “I’d gone to school for social services and now work at the Native Women’s Centre. There are three programs running through the place where I work. A transitional residence program helps house people with very low rent for a year to get them back on their feet. I’m with the Healing Sisters program and basically my role is doing crisis intervention and get them away from dangerous situations as well as a homeless shelter. Just having the chance to work with these women and the privilege to serve is awesome.”
The Native Women’s Centre is an organization that provides emergency shelter for all women regardless of age, culture or otherwise with or without children who are experiencing crisis in their lives due to family violence, homelessness, or conflict with the law. While funded though government programs, Johnson can attest that making sure the NWC continues providing this much needed service depends on donations and the generosity of the community. As such, Johnson felt the need to fundraise and with her previous life experiences, Johnson had friends that were willing to help out.
“Knowing all of the people I’ve met from going to shows over the years, it’s amazing the rolodex of names you collect,” says Johnson. “Because the artist community is so strong and are always willing to help and have softer hearts, they’re more willing to jump on the train and help out. I just put the call out, ‘we’re going to do a benefit to raise some money, who wants in?’ There were an amazing amount of people that raised their hand and wanted to be a part of this.
“The Music Valley Boys are from the reserve and they’re my co–worker’s husband’s band but a lot of the performers are ones that I know from Shady Grove Lukaya Cafe on Upper Wellington as well,” adds Johnson. “They have a Tuesday open mic night with Brennagh Burns that has a really amazing energy. Michelle Morra is a pianist songwriter that performs there and the same with folk artist George C. Douglas. Hadihawis is another co-worker who will be playing some songs on his guitar and we have harpist Rachael Constance. And then we have Deeps who is an incredible singer and songwriter. He used to host the open mic and I met him there and mentioned I was doing this benefit and what we were trying to do. He told me that those people w’re trying to help were his people, his neighbourhood. He lives in the Barton Street area and what he said was so true. They are our people and our neighbourhood and that’s why this event should happen.”
Bolstered by the response of her musical friends, Johnson is excited for the musical fundraiser she’s assembled to raise money and awareness for the important work done at the Native Women’s Centre.
“The fundraiser is an avenue for people to show their support of the issue and of women,” says Johnson. “We have an exciting line up of musicians but there may be more coming out as well. We will have a booth set up to explain our programs and how this benefit will be helping. I hope everyone can come out for the fun but even if you can’t make it because of timing you can always donate by going to the website nativewomenscentre.com. We’re calling out to everbody out to support. We embrace the native spirit but I’m mot indiginous and we help people from all walks of life. If you can help out I hope you do. I really believe this benefit is a good one and at the shelter we really need the help.”
The Fundraiser for Native Women’s centre happens Saturday August 24 at the Casbah from Noon to 7pm. Tickets are $15 in advance via casbahlounge.ca or $20 at the door. Click on nativewomenscentre.com.