Winnipeg Free Press, February 26 2018, by Danielle Da Silva
The grandmothers behind the popular fundraiser that saw hundreds of Winnipeggers digging through their attics in support of women in sub-Saharan Africa are hoping their latest event will have people raving.
The Winnipeg chapter of Grands ‘n’ More will host It’s OK to Rant at The Park Theatre (698 Osborne St.) on March 8.
The inaugural event — held on International Women’s Day — will see local community leaders and performers Lara Rae, Al Simmons, Shahina Siddiqui, Doug Speirs, and Sel Burrows take to the stage at The Park and deliver a rant on a topic of their choosing. The evening will also include rants from Louis Riel School Division students Kirsten Kruse, Janine Brown, and performances from the Kelvin High School Senior Jazz Band and ukulele group The Ukuladies.
Cathie Hiller, grandmother regional liaison in Manitoba for the Stephen Lewis Foundation and the co-chair of Grands ‘n’ More Winnipeg, said the rant night is in support of the hundreds of senior women raising orphaned children across 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, many of which are raising their voices to advocate for change.
“The grandmothers in Africa themselves have become a groundswell,” Hiller, a River Heights local, explained. “They changed what originally started as just support into a movement. Now they’re holding their own rallies in individual countries.”
Hiller said there are about 17-million orphaned children being cared for by grandmothers who receive housing, medical, food, and educational support from the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
“These grandmothers have gone from basic rights to human rights,” she said. “They have said to their governments that we want to be at the table when the decisions are made regarding health care, employment, domestic abuse.”
Since 2006, the 240 Grands ‘n’ More groups across Canada have raised $25-million to help their counterparts across the globe, she said.
According to Hiller, the local chapter of Grands ‘n’ More has raised about $500,000 for the foundation, a fifth of which came from the Art from the Attic fundraiser. The annual art sale has seen incredible support from the community she said, with people generously donating art, and others coming to the second-hand art sale with wallets open.
Pat van Herksen, fundraising co-chair with Grands ‘n’ More Winnipeg, said she’s hoping the community will embrace the new event in the same way as Art from the Attic — plus there’s no shortage of things to rant about in Winnipeg either.
People in the audience will be able to donate $10 for a chance to share their two-cents with those in attendance.
“It’s something different. The usual walkathons are wonderful, but this is something that’s never been done here,” van Herksen said. “We want a bum in every seat.”
“It has to have no obscenity, it has to be respectful, and non-political,” Hiller added. “So that’s why they won’t let me rant.”
Tickets to It’s OK to Rant are $20 and are available by calling 204-793-5464 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org Doors are at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7.