Muskrat Dam was the place to be for peacefulness, spirituality and great hospitality March 26-28 during the 21st Annual Inter-denominational Gospel Jamboree.
Chief Gordon Beardy said the community began the jamboree because people love music.
“I find that a lot of people communicate with their Creator through music. It is like a prayer, especially when you hear others, it helps you with life.”
Beardy has been playing guitar since he was 15 years old. The late Reverend Steven Beardy of Sachigo taught him and a few other young men to play.
One of Beardy’s favourite songs to sing is Just As I Am.
“It helps me when I sing that. It talks about me. It speaks in a humble way. It talks about the weakness of man that we have, but also it talks about the power of God that we need.”
The gospel jamboree is Inter-denominational. The faiths represented at the jamboree are Gospel, New Life, Anglican, Roman Catholic and Evangical.
“I was taught by my dad if you really want to follow God, you must respect every individual. That is how I understand it.
That is how I was brought up. I accept people as they are,” Beardy said.
In past years the jamboree was held at the school gym to accommodate a large crowd. However, with the mild weather this winter and the early closure of the winter road, attendance to the jamboree suffered. This year, the jamboree was held at the Muskrat Dam Band Hall.
“People usually like to travel on the winter road because it is cheaper. We had to fly some people in. The people (here) are still happy, and they are still connected,” Beardy said.
Many of the performers who came to the jamboree have been visiting Muskrat Dam for many years.
Jerome Harper came from St. Therese Point, Man. He was one of the musicians who performed at the jamboree. Once a singer of honky-tonk music, he now sings gospel. Harper possesses a rich, strong voice similar to country star Charlie Pride. His deep baritone voice easily captivates the listener.
“I always say that there is always something about a song that comes from the heart that makes the pain more bearable and makes the (emotional) baggage more portable.” Harper said.
Husband and wife duo, Debra and Ernie Harper, originally from Red Sucker, Man., also sang from the heart during their performance. The Harpers have been living in Musrkat Dam for several years now. Ernie plays the guitar and Debra sings in a tender, sweet voice, comparable to Alison Krauss. The melodic sound of her voice imprints on the mind long after she has finished singing.
For children at the jamboree, activities were held at the Muskrat Dam Youth Centre. Facilitators from southern Ontario held a puppet show, provided arts and crafts, and taught the children a new dance. There was also lots of playtime outside in a game of tag with other children.
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