When beloved members of a community pass away, thoughts about how to commemorate their lives begin to be tossed around. Sometimes a bench is adorned with a plaque or a seedling is planted.
In the case of Gord Polichek and Wendy Perry (Trapp), the community of Dawson City wanted to do something a little different.
Enter the Reprise Music Scholarship Memorial Fund, “Live Music Lives On”, created in 2010 as a charitable trust and a community music fund to help sprout the seeds of music.
Perry, originally from Alberta, began “playing piano around town as soon as she got up here,” says Karen Dubois, executive director of the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture (KIAC) and one of the scholarship’s committee members.
In the time that Perry called Dawson her home, she became a beloved member of the music scene, playing in different local bands including Cabin Fever.
One highlight of her career was opening for Doc MacLean and Big Dave MacLean in October 2009.
In addition, Perry was always taking different courses and dedicated to lifelong learning.
Gord Polichuk, on bass, and Wendy Perry, on keyboard, once collaborated onstage at the Westminster Hotel. This month the community of Dawson City is coming together for a fundraiser in their honour
Meanwhile, Polichek, from Vancouver Island, made a mark on many an individual. Known as the “Walrus”, he was a dedicated musician, specializing in the bass, and also a music educator.
He performed with The Pointer Brothers at the Westminister Hotel, and recorded The Pink Album in 2000, and later Home On Wheels in 2009.
One online memorial for Polichek reads, “Gord’s generosity was beyond words. Before asking him for something you had to think it through, how he would respond, because he would give you everything you needed and beyond. He would be more concerned for your needs than his own.”
Both Polichek and Perry passed away in 2010.
However, the memories of these two Dawson icons now live on through the Reprise.
Founded by Georgia Hammond, Jenna Roebuck, Carol McBride, and Heidi Bliedung, in two years the scholarship has already helped recipients attend fiddle camp, pay for music lessons, and given music educators funds to buy supplies.
The scholarship is open to Dawson students of music as well as their educators. There are no age or experience limitations. They began with intake deadlines for the yearly disbursements, but now the committee sits down whenever new applications come through.
The maximum amount given is $200, which may seem small compared to some scholarships, but when it comes to music education it can go a long way. Think about it, that could be 10 one-hour music lessons, or 20 music workbooks.
The funding for the trust comes from donations put forward by the community. In the fund’s first year they raised $5, 000 from an event held that spring at the Westminister Hotel, in addition to generous donations from the Yukon Employees Union (which Perry was a part of), the Yukon Federation of Labour, the YEU Klondike Local 26, and annual individual pledges.
The account is looked after by KIAC and donations are tax deductible.
This year, two special events have been organized to raise funds and awareness. At the end of March there will be an event held at the Westminster Lounge in conjunction with McBride’s 50thbirthday.
“I wanted to do something different instead of the usual gift thing,” says McBride.
Attendees will see numerous local musicians playing, and there will be a silent auction with exciting items up for bid.
“My hope is that this method of throwing birthday benefits will catch on and become another Dawson tradition,” says MacBride.
“We have so many great causes and who needs more stuff.”
In addition, the season’s final Family Coffee House & Open Mic, on April 14 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Odd Fellows Ballroom, will gather funds through admission-by-donation and the concession.
Headlining the evening will be Carolyn Mark and her band Her New Best Friends, as well as ZavRT, creator of the Fiddleworks fiddle program. RT has been giving lessons to locals via Skype from her home in Victoria.
For local musicians, this is the last event of its kind until the end of summer.
If you want to benefit from or donate to this scholarship, you can learn more about it by attending the fundraising events or through KIAC.