Once you are part of the ScotianAires family you are family forever! Joanne Stewart was a beloved member of the ScotianAires for many years, lending her singing talents to the Hummm Bugs Quartet as well as the chorus, and contributing her creative mindset to many projects including the sourcing and creation of our current contest outfits.
In November of 2017, Joanne was diagnosed with ALS. It has been a difficult and challenging journey for Joanne who has spoken of the distress of trying to figure out how she would break the news to her sisters in Harmony, but also of the love and support she has received in turn. As Joanne explains, “The chorus members were not just singing partners, they are family. Since November 2017, life has changed dramatically. I got married, sold my house, travelled across Canada and so much more. I have lost my voice and I’m unable to swallow. My ScotianAires family keeps in touch and reaches out often. When I’m introduced to people by my new husband, he often pops up pictures of me on stage as a member of the ScotianAires or me dressed as Ursula the Octopus on fun night. He is proud of my being part of the ScotianAires family, and how they help boost my spirits.”
Each year the ALS society of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia holds a walk, ALS Walk Strong, to raise funds for their equipment lending library. In 2019 the ScotianAires performed at the kickoff event at the Bedford waterfr
ont and were happy to have Joanne join them on their outdoor stage. This year’s walk was planned for June 21st but like many other events, the walk had to go virtual. But celebrating Joanne and raising funds for the ALS cause called for more than just a “virtual” response. And so the idea of a “drive by” celebration and fundraiser was born…the brainchild of Joanne’s close ScotianAire friends Debbie Bradley and Linda McMaster. The call went out to the ScotianAires and to other family and friends of Joanne, and on June 14th , over 30 cars met in the early afternoon and paraded past Joanne’s home, led by an RCMP escort! Vehicles were decked out in purple, the official colour of the ALS society, and some were festooned with dragonflies which the society has chosen as its symbol as a reminder to reconnect with our strength, courage and happiness.
Joanne sat out on her front lawn and enjoyed the show surrounded by many members of her family including husband Wayne, son Matthew, Mom Flos, sister Penny, grandson Ben and step-grandson AJ. Friends and relations dropped off flowers and offered words and signs of love and encouragement. Altogether with the donations from the drive by, the ScotianAires and Joanne’s online donation page, over $4500.00 was raised for ALS NB/NS!
Joanne could feel the love – nothing virtual about it! “Witnessing my ScotianAire sisters do the drive showed my family what I’m always telling them” she explained. “Because I’m part of the ScotianAire family, despite my illness, I never feel alone.” Joanne is certainly a special alumna of the ScotianAires chorus….one of the homemade signs summed it up this way: “Joanne, you are the best daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, wife, ScotianAire.” The ScotianAires are so honoured and inspired to have Joanne in our lives!