How proud am I of the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee (CSLCC), a group I helped established six years ago? Very much so.
We are a small group of volunteers, dedicated to Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt. Few communities on the island of Montreal have such an entity. While the city provides us with an annual grant of $5,000, we need more to fulfil our mission. There are veterinarian bills to pay and supplies to purchase. So a year into our existence we decided to start doing some fundraising. Our biggest event is a concert we present featuring the extraordinary Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Joseph Milo.
For our fifth annual concert on August 23 at the Syd Wise Auditorium of the Marymount Adult Education Centre, more than 300 people were in attendance. A Bouquet of Classics: The Music We All Love was the theme. Net proceeds plus funds collected via donations and purchases through our bake sale – spearheaded by Fern Collier-Pereira – gave us the boost we needed to keep doing our job. In fact the money received from the latter goes to a new fund which will enable us to purchase cat food for those who feed outdoor community cats year-round.
It is safe to say that most of the people in the audience were there to hear good music. As I said in my address, if only a few of those individuals step forward to help us then it will be a plus for us. I must say that over the last couple of years, different people have joined our team and truly made a difference. Diane Liebling is the heart and sole of our committee. She oversees the most difficult task of trapping the homeless community cats we find, often fostering them in her own garage. As I saw the large gathering around the bake sale at intermission, with Fern and committee members working so hard, I felt very very proud,
Councillor Sam Goldbloom once again co-chaired the concert with me. Sam and I are the only pet owners on council and he adores his Mr. Darcy as much as I love my Cleopatra. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein has been very supportive of our cause. So has his predecessor, present-day Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather. Both gentleman spoke at the start of our program, as did Elisabeth Prass. She runs D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum’s office. David, following the lead of his predecessor Lawrence Bergman, provides us with an annual donation of $500.
Mr. Birnbaum could not attend because he was sitting in a Parliamentary Commission in Quebec City. But Ms. Prass explained how Mr. Birnbaum has been proud to report to his colleague, the provincial Minister of Agriculture, that Côte Saint-Luc is a leader in the welfare of cats and humanitarian practices towards pets. “In the spirit of this, in December of last year, our Liberal government was proud to adopt Bill 54, the Animal Welfare and Safety Act, which legislates for the better protection of animals and defines them as sentient beings with biological needs, rather than as objects,” she explained. “Our government's goal with this ground-breaking legislation is to better protect pets and ensure humanitarian treatment of animals raised for food production.”
The Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra are nothing less than outstanding. This year some members also presented superb solo performances. Founded in 2006 by conductor Milo and his wife Lucy Ravinsky, this one of a kind orchestra is composed of 55 musicians: about 80 percent of its members are from 15 countries around the world, while the remaining 20 percent are natives of Montreal who successfully facilitated the integration of the newcomers. They have been rehearsing at Côte Saint-Luc City Hall for many years
I could have listened to them all night. The first half was dominated by classics. After intermission we heard many Broadway tunes from the likes of The Lion King, West Side Story and Phantom of the Opera. Every year Joseph surprises us with something dedicated to cats. Sean O’Brien, Anna Levitina and photographer Rami Negev belted out Everybody Wants to Be a Cat from the Aristocrats. It was a feel good way to conclude proceedings. We all left truly happy, very much looking forward to doing the same thing next August.
Nutrience Pet Food by Hagen served as a sponsor as did Expedia Cruises, which even set up an information kiosk. The latter had a lot of traffic. Scotiabank Cavendish generously donated some door prizes. I thank them for supporting us.
Thank you to Alvin Fishman, who steered the ship on logistics from day one and went the extra mile on the day of the concert with Mo Giobbi; to Harold Cammy, while on a well-deserved break, always gets things started for us by booking the auditorium and getting ticket sales going; to Regine Banon, who takes care of printing the tickets, overseeing our flyers/programs and all publicity related to the event (this year she went the extra mile and came to video tape); to Lisa Milner, who keeps us regularly up to date on crucial sales at the library; and of course Marymount Adult Education Centre head caretaker Michel Leblanc who stays after work to ensure to oversee the crucial component of sound.
There are so many people on our committee I can single out, from Rebecca Katz who oversees our Facebook page and takes care of our hotline to young Liz Brenhouse who fosters and socializes cats in her own bedroom and seeks homes for them. True cat lovers exist in our community and I want to meet more of them.
We received a lot of media coverage leading up to the concert. You can review it all here.