Charity begins at home. And home is where the heart is.
Ipso facto, charity begins where your heart is.
For Calgary country quartet Nice Horse, that’s an easy one — their hearts are in an amazing place and charity begins at the same.
And on Saturday, Oct. 14 those hearts and that charity will come together at the Webber Academy Performing Arts Centre as they stage the Horses For Heroes fundraiser in support of the Can Praxis program.
“We’ve been planning this for a year now … because it was a charity that we wanted to work with and we just felt really strongly about,” says drummer Krista Wodelet.
To understand why, first you need to understand what it is.
Can Praxis is a charity that provides equine therapy for military vets and first responders who suffer from PTSD and their spouses who suffer along with them. The Rocky Mountain House-based program is run by Steve Critchley, an almost three-decade Canadian Forces vet, and Jim Marland, a registered psychologist and Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator.
It’s a charity that speaks to the ladies “on a bunch of levels.” For one, Nice Horse bassist Brandi Sidoryk grew up on a farm in the Rocky Mountain House area. She’s also a long-serving military member. As for Wodelet — the pair, were previously in local band Sidney York — her reasons are even more personal and closer to her heart, as her boyfriend is in the Calgary Police Service and suffers from PTSD.
“The program is just so unlike anything else because you do just feel so isolated,” an understandably emotional Wodelet says. “There’s nobody else to talk to about it, it’s such a strange illness in that you end up just in this little bubble where you end up attacking each other sometimes and you just can’t get out of it. There’s nobody else you can feel that will help you.”
Which is where Can Praxis comes in — they offer a series of communication workshops with couples and horses that aims to help those in need deal with one another, understand they’re not alone.
The members of Nice Horse have seen the results first-hand, having gone to Toronto to film a music video a few months ago that featured several alumni from the program. They also went to Sudbury recently to get footage for the Saturday night concert, talking to a couple who had gone through it.
“We’ve been meeting the alumni from this program and they just have so many wonderful things to say,” says Sidoryk, before looking at Wodelet. “I know you feel like you belong to that community too now.”
Wodelet admits that it’s all been such an intense experience, also having gone through it personally, but one that has made her feel as if she has people to talk to, somewhere to turn.
“I can’t describe how special it’s been,” she says.
And with their hearts secured in the right place, they’re hoping to help others see how special Can Praxis is with an event that goes above and beyond.
Along with Nice Horse, the Webber Academy concert will also feature performances by fellow Alberta country artists Dan Davidson and Aaron Pritchett.
There will also be a house band led by the remarkable Russell Broom, and — bringing Sidoryk’s two worlds together — the HMCS Tecumseh Military Band, which Sidoryk has been involved for the past decade, will perform a song with each of the C&W acts as well as regimentals for any military members who are in the audience.
“We tend to have very ambitious goals when we do things,” says Sidoryk with a bright laugh.
“It’s kind of a unique experience for the artists that are doing it and for the people who are coming.”
So, after a year in the making, an incredible amount of logistics and a whole lot of military red tape, they’re now ready to bring it home and hopefully help out a charity that is so very, very close to their hearts and well worth the effort.
“We just want to do everything we can for (Can Praxis) because we know that they’ve put all of themselves into it for those vets and those first responders,” Wodelet says. “To watch them do that is incredibly humbling and makes us want to do everything for them.”
Horses For Heroes takes place Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Webber Academy Performing Arts Centre (1515 93rd St. S.W.). All proceeds will go directly towards supporting Can Praxis’ programs and services. For tickets go to smarturl.it/h4h. For more information on Can Praxis please go to canpraxis.com.
Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for theYYSCENE.com. Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at email@example.com.