God winks on Bowen Island 

Eclectic all-day concert a timely event

What: In the Name of Peace — War Child Benefit Concert

Where: Crippen Park, Bowen Island

When: Saturday, Sept. 11, 11:30 a.m.—8:30 p.m.

Tickets: $10/$20

They’re those little coincidences that keep popping up when you need them most. "Signs" that you’re on the right track. Bowen Island concert co-ordinator Nicole Martin calls them "God-winks."

She’s caught God winking a few times over the past four years, the time it’s taken to make In the Name of Peace, a homegrown, multi-act, multi-stage benefit concert for War Child Canada, a reality.

God first winked when Martin learned about the War Child organization back in 2000 by catching a TV interview with War Child Canada director, Dr. Samantha Nutt.

The charity’s mission is to aid children and families in war zones such as Afghanistan and the Sudan, a cause that struck a note with the mother of two. The concert idea came with the cause. The organization cultivates a youthful vibe, maintained by a lengthy list of spokespersons from popular music. War Child Canada’s impressive company of chart-topping supporters includes Chantal Kreviazuk, Avril Lavigne and the Tragically Hip.

After learning more about War Child, Martin dreamed up the local event to help the Toronto-based organization gain some ground on the West Coast. Back in 2000, she was wary the charity’s global perspective would be somewhat of a hard sell.

The following year, however, was marked by the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Previously complacent North Americans became very much aware of the world outside their borders. Martin became all the more convinced that hosting a War Child benefit was the right thing to do and forged ahead. God winked again when the most appropriate date for the concert turned out to be Sept. 11, 2004, an anniversary partial to anti-war activism.

In the Name of Peace is taking place at Bowen’s oceanside Crippen Park. A total of 16 local and visiting musical acts will be performing. The eclectic roster includes California reggae/ska band The Debonaires, who will also be performing after the concert at the Bowen Island pub, and a variety of Howe Sound artists including singer/songwriter Leslie Alexander and fiddler Moritz Behm.

Maintaining a family emphasis, there will also be three children’s entertainers and an activity station for those young’uns who tend to squirm through folk rock musings.

Children are important to War Child.

The message hits home even harder in light of recent tragic events halfway around the world in the Russian republic of North Ossetia, that left hundreds dead after a group believed to be Chechen separatists took hundreds of school children and their relatives hostage.

Heart wrenching news images from the region have reinforced War Child’s ideals, making the concert even more timely.

There has been one major zero-hour obstacle for the virgin concert promoter.

Last week, the Island’s Labour Day weekend Bowfest fair turned into front page news after conflicts were reported between over-zealous RCMP and festival-goers.

Martin says the coverage, which suggested a police state on Bowen Island, was one-sided and blew the event out of proportion. While the RCMP’s tactics were widely panned, Martin says drug and alcohol-fuelled after-partying at previous Bowfests by disrespectful off-island visitors had resulted in vandalism. Efforts to pre-emptively curb that from happening this year provided the motive for the police’s searches and strict ferry traffic screening. Overkill, perhaps, but not entirely unwarranted.

In any case, Martin says she doesn’t foresee the same problems for her event this weekend.

"If it affects it in a negative way, that’s too bad, but it shouldn’t," she commented. "What we’re all about is in our name – In the Name of Peace. It’s for the children."

According to Martin there are several key differences between the two situations, the most important being that In the Name of Peace is to proceed as an alcohol- and drug-free event and is set to end at the family-friendly time of 8:30 p.m.

"What we’re really trying to do with this negative publicity is (show) the flipside," Martin said. "Our (event) is really about music and families and bringing awareness to the community.

"It’s about the kids and about their human rights and looking out for our future generation… to keep them safe and healthy and happy is the main thing."

In the Name of Peace kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are available on the Island at Funky Monkey, Phoenix Photo and Gifts on the Pier. Adult tickets are $20, kids 13 and under are $10 and kids under 3 years old get in free.

All proceeds will be donated to War Child Canada.

For more information on the concert go to www.inthenameofpeace.com.

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