“Rise and Shine, Lake Winnipeg” performed at the Riverton Hootenanny July 2nd. Pictured left to right are Janice Arnason, Lindsey Prise, Britney Kroeker, Bailey Magnusson, Ainsley Kroeker, Trevor Kehler, Dalton Johnson, and Tanner Wahl. Photo by Ben W. Holyk.
Learning to love Lake Winnipeg via song
By Jay Boaz
(Originally published in the Interlake Enterprise)
While a number of songs at the Riverton Hootenanny, held Canada Day long week-end as part of Riverton Reunion Days, focused on tales of Lake Winnipeg’s past, one song in particular is poised to inspire and educate a new generation.
“Rise and Shine, Lake Winnipeg” made its choral debut that night in the Riverton Hall, with music written by the late Lorne Martin and words by Rod Palson. Rod’s daughter Lindsey Prise sang the lead, joined on piano by Janice Arnason and members, past and present, of the choir at Riverton Collegiate.
“The song started as a poem,” said Palson, who wrote it while in college in 1972. “It was five lines, which is now one of the verses.” Palson later filled it out and wrote more verses. “Around 1975 I met Lorne Martin, who was in a band at the time with Dick Johnson called Retreat.”
Palson shared the words with Martin, a fellow “lake guy”, who loved them. “Lorne decided he wanted to make it a song and wrote the melody. It was a song sung around the bonfire and a few times in public,” said Palson, adding his daughter Lindsey performed the song sporadically over the years. “But nothing much was ever done with it.”
In 2011, Lorne suddenly passed away. “Shortly before Lorne passed we agreed that within our lifetime we wanted to give the song some broader meaning to a wider audience,” said Palson. “so when he passed that was at the top of my mind.” Palson then had the thought to approach the Lake Winnipeg Foundation to make Martin’s wish come true. “I always felt that the words of that song were pretty much written for what the Foundation is all about.”
The Lake Winnipeg Foundation (LWF) loved what they heard and agreed to collaborate with Palson. “Rod approached us with the idea we could do something exciting with the song and give it a broader reach,” said Lake Winnipeg Foundation Executive Director Alexis Kanu, “and we thought it could be a great educational resource for youth and a tool to help bring Rod and Lorne’s message and vision to other communities.”
LWF then commissioned a choral score, which will launch in September as part of a back to school promotion, free to use by music teachers and choir directors across the province. “It will be another tool to enrich water education. More and more we are realizing water education goes far beyond just the science curriculum. It touches on art and history and social sciences, and we want to provide teachers with tools to bring that into their classrooms.”
Palson agreed with the Foundations approach. “I loved the idea because it gets to the grassroots, gets young people learning the song and hopefully start having a positive impact on how people think about the lake.”
There are two versions of Rise and Shine, Lake Winnipeg that will be made available, one created by Philip Lapatha and the other, the version performed at the Riverton Hootenanny, composed by former Riverton Collegiate choir teacher Heida Arnason. “Unfortunately Heida couldn’t be at the Hootenanny after all her hard work getting the song ready but her Mom Janice stepped in during the concert,” said Palson. “The Hootenanny really helped us get the initiative off on the right footing.”
LWF has a network of educators to distribute the song to but are also looking to build new partnerships. “We’ll be doing promotion through our social media,” said Kanu,” and we’ve been working at creating more resources for teachers to access on our website.” The scores will be available at no cost.
“We just think there is so much potential with youth, and if they can experience the lake and understand the value of water when they’re young, that’s something they carry forward for the rest of their lives,” said Kanu.
In addition to advocacy and education about the lake, the Foundation also holds fundraisers, as most non-profits do. Of particular interest to Enterprise readers may be the “Lake Bash 2017”, being held at the Farmers Hall just outside of Gimli on August 18. “We will have a pickerel dinner, live music, a cash bar, and silent auction” said Kanu. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children 12 & under, and can be purchased at the Farmers Hall, HP Tergesen & Sons, and at www.lakewinnipegfoundation.com.
Additionally, Enterprise junior assistant Griffin Boaz, age 6, will be selling lemonade, cookies, and keychains on August the 13th with proceeds going to the Foundation. “I want to raise money to help the animals in the Lake,” said Griffin, “so I am giving the money to the Lake Winnipeg Foundation.” The lemonade stand will be held at 307 Sunset Drive (Vesturland) in Gimli from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.