L’ARDOISE: Richmond County seniors came together to share their creativity with the public at the “Senior Moments” event on March 8 which featured the works of nearly 30 local seniors who took part in the Mind-Body-Spirit project sponsored by the Dr. Kingston Memorial Community Health Centre.

The project allowed seniors age 55 and over to take part in three free arts based workshops. Zine and PhotoVoice classes facilitated by Dawn Ostrem gave seniors the chance to create their own magazines and photo journals. A theatre workshop facilitated by Adam Cooke allowed participants to express themselves through skits and music. The showcase featured the theatre group’s first live production, as well as a gallery display of Zine and PhotoVoice projects.

Participants come from throughout Richmond County and vary widely in age.

Cooke said his goal was to allow them the freedom to tell their own stories.

Participants took charge of all aspects of production from writing scripts to performing. Skits ranged from humorous, to thought-provoking and touch on a wide variety of topics including on-line dating and coping with loss.

Gerry Samson had the crowd at the L’Ardoise Community Centre in stitches as he recalled the colourful characters from his years at Point Tupper’s paper mill, during the opening night of “Senior Moments,” a theatre show launched as part of the New Horizons Arts for Seniors project.

MABOU: Strathspey Place Performing Arts Centre announced it was set to host its first CURRENTS Multicultural festival on Thursday evenings from July 12 to August 23.

Tracey MacNeil, executive director for Strathspey Place, says the festival was developed in part to take advantage of increased traffic in the area during the summer months.

The Thursday evening performances featured a more informal atmosphere with audience members seated on stage with the musicians. The concerts featured a cash bar where visitors experienced some of Nova Scotia’s local brews, including products from Big Spruce and Cape Breton Brewing. The performance was open to people of all pages.

MacNeil says the stage venue, which seats between 100 and 110 people offered a more intimate setting than the traditional auditorium seating.

The shows featured a range of genres from pop-rock to traditional, and included a variety of artists reflecting Nova Scotia’s diverse cultural traditions. Audiences heard Acadian and Métis influences from artists such as Maxim and Jarvais Cormier, as well as traditional Celtic music from musicians including Brent Aucoin, Scott Macmillan and Brian Doyle. Songwriters such as Sean McCann performed original music reflecting their own cultural backgrounds.

TORONTO: Allie MacDonald of Port Hawkesbury won a 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for her work on CTV detective series Cardinal.

MacDonald has appeared in a variety of genres from horror to comedy. She is also known for her role as Belinda in the CTV sitcom, Young Drunk Punk.

MacDonald said playing the role of villain Edie Soames in the first season of Cardinal was emotionally draining, but her director and co-stars helped her feel comfortable on set.

Although she now lives in Toronto, MacDonald still considers Port Hawkesbury her home. She started acting in plays while attending SAERC and performed in Oliver at Theatre Antigonish at the age of 15.

After working with Neptune Theatre in Halifax, she attended the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, BC and became interested in film and television. She credits her family with encouraging her as she navigated the ups and downs of a career in acting. Her father was by her side in Toronto as she accepted her award.

MacDonald played movie star Lillian Gish in Why Not Choose Love: A Mary Pickford Manifesto. She also appeared in Under the Silver Lake starring Andrew Garfield and Riley Keough.

WAYCOBAH: A young artist from We’koqma’q First Nation made a name for himself in the world of hip hop.

It was a busy year for Todd Googoo, who raps under the name SHiFT FROM THA 902. In 2018, he opened for acclaimed rapper Classified, spent time in the studio working on his debut album, and boasted a busy touring schedule. On April 12, he performed in Port Hawkesbury before starting off on a tour of Atlantic Canada.

The hip hop group Eastside District was one of the local groups that inspired Googoo to start his career in music. He was also inspired by well-known rappers like 2Pac, Notorious BIG, Eminem, and 50 Cent.

Gradually, his love of hip hop turned into a desire to perform and record his own music professionally.

Googoo says his home and community have been one of his biggest inspirations.

Googoo says making music videos has helped more people see and connect with his music, and helped open more opportunities for him musically.

In addition to opening for Classified last year, Googoo was nominated for a 2017 Music Nova Scotia Award for Indigenous Artist of the Year, and was featured in an artist’s showcase at the East Coast Music Awards. His music video for “Hometown” was featured at last year’s Emerging Lense Film Festival in Halifax.

Còig took home the award for Roots/Traditional Recording of the Year at the 2018 East Coast Music Awards.

HALIFAX: Several Strait area musicians were among those honoured at the 2018 East Coast Music Association (ECMA) awards.

Among the artists representing the Strait area this year was the Cape Breton Celtic group Còig featuring Chrissy Crowley, Jason Roach, Rachel Davis, and Darren McMullen. The group took home the award for Roots/Traditional Recording of the Year for their latest album Rove.

Makayla Lynn, a singer and songwriter with roots in L’Ardoise, won Country Recording of the Year for her album, On a Dare and a Prayer.

Paul Tynan received an award for Jazz Recording of the Year for his album, BiCoastal Collective: Chapter 5 with Grammy winning saxophonist, Aaron Lington. Tynan is an associate professor at StFX where he teaches jazz trumpet, jazz history, and arranging.

CHINA: Never Speak of This Again, the debut novel by Brenda MacLennan-Dunphy tells the story of a young Cape Breton woman who went away to work in Boston in the days leading up to the First World War.

The story follows 17-year-old Nellie as she finds herself pregnant and alone in Boston. When she returns home to Nova Scotia, she encounters shame and rejection.

The story is set mainly between Cape Breton and Boston from 1917 to 1919, but it also follows the characters as far away as western Canada and Europe during World War I.

MacLennan-Dunphy first became interested in writing plays a few years ago when her oldest daughter wanted to perform a musical at Dalbrae Academy.

With the help of local musicians Lisa Cameron and Barry Fougere who played the leading roles, MacLennan-Dunphy organized two productions of John Archie & Nellie in 2012 and 2016. She wrote and produced her second play, The Weddin’ Dance in 2013, and Displacement in 2014.

MacLennan-Dunphy’s works incorporates family, Cape Breton history, music and culture.

PORT HOOD: The Port Hood Area Development Society (PHADS) announced plans to host the first annual Murphy’s Pond Music Festival on July 14. The event will feature live music from local performers from 1-9 p.m.

Lynn Chisholm, a member of PHADS said the idea for the festival came to her as she watched the construction of the new marina at Murphy’s Pond. In September, she brought the idea to PHADS to host a festival on the marina grounds.

Chisholm worked with the Port Hood Harbour Authority and Small Craft Harbours, and says the reaction to the idea was positive. She also received calls from a number of residents interested in volunteering their time to the festival.

Chisholm said that for the festival’s first year, the lineup featured a range of musicians including Robert Bouchard, Dan Doiron, Bill Spears, Tracey MacNeil, DJ MacGillivray, and The We’koqma’q Drummers.

Port Hood-based business Galloping Cows Fine Foods was onsite selling pizza slices. The Port Hood Co-op sold ice cream, and a bar tent was available for those 19 and over.

Former Bayview Education Centre teacher Bonnie Boulton, along with several youth volunteers, led supervised activities for children during the afternoon.

In addition to the festival, Chisholm launched a new weekly outdoor concert series at Central Park on Main Street in Port Hood starting on July 2. “Ceilidh in the Park 2018”featured music by a different local performer every Monday at 7 p.m.

ST. PETER’S: The team behind the annual Music Camp on the Canal offered a twist with a one-day workshop designed to help already-accomplished young musicians fine tune their performance skills.

Participants were assigned to one of six bands and tasked with preparing a song for an all-star concert, with help from their designated coach. The musician faculty – Keith Mullins, Allie Bennett, Scott Macmillan, Colin Grant, Kelli Trottier, and Brian Doyle – each mentored a band and offered advice on performance craft, as well as practical tips. Other sessions focused on percussion and choreography.

The day’s events took place at East Richmond Education Centre, while the evening concert was staged at the St. Peter’s Lions Hall.

Village clerk Meghan Hayter (left) and administrative support officer Debra Richard welcomed visitors to the St. Peter’s Village Wall of Art on June 12.

ST. PETER’S: On June 12, the Village of St. Peter’s hosted an official unveiling celebration for its Wall of Art at the St. Peter’s Village Commission office on Denys Street.

Deb Richard, the local artist behind the project, said the initial Wall of Art was set up approximately three months ago. She posted an announcement on Facebook and sent out invitations to local artists to take part.

Participating artists have the option to sell their work, and visitors have purchased a total of 14 pieces since the wall was set up. Richard said people coming into the office are stopping to admire the colourful artwork on display, and traffic in the building has increased.

The project expanded to include a Junior Wall of Art. Although the children’s names are not displayed with their artwork for privacy reasons, they also have the option of selling their work.

PORT HAWKESBURY: Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 43 in Port Hawkesbury, presented their special awards on June 4 and awarded Grade 8 student Sara Pluta, daughter of Dr. Paul Pluta and Karen Pluta, with a plaque, flowers and a $500 cheque.

The awards were for the Legion’s Remembrance Day contest. Pluta won first place with her poem “My PTSD” in the Intermediate Poetry category. She also took first at the provincial level for the Royal Canadian Legion Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command, and at the national level for the Royal Canadian Legion, Dominion Command.

Pluta had first heard of the contest back in fifth grade at her school, Tamarac Education Centre. She has been participating in the contest since then, doing so on her own.

“It’s from the perspective of a veteran with PSTD, and then by the end it’s about them getting better,” Pluta explained. “I came up with the idea when I saw commercials about PTSD. It took me a while, but it was easy once I got the words flowing.”