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HEFC Heroes for December - Francine Brisebois and Joslyn Brodeur

Lynn Sherwood

When members of the board of Directors met - by phone - last March, in the early days of The Lockdown to figure out our response to the pandemic, we realized that, realistically, our annual Walkathon would not be happening. It did not enter our minds that we would still be managing the pandemic by Christmas.

The holiday season, from November until January, is usually the busiest time of the year at HEFC. Not only does the need for food increase as winter approaches, with seasonal job layoffs for many of our clients, but with so many holiday celebrations this “Season of Giving” is the period during which we receive about 80% of our annual community donations through church events, school, workplace and service club food drives, Santa’s Breakfast, and other expressions of community support. Our biggest single source of funds, however, has always been the amazing Christmas Concert organized by the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on Alta Vista Drive – which usually sponsors one of the most inspirational events of the Christmas season. Indeed the church is usually packed for this excellent concert. Because of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic we have been assuming that not only would we not be receiving many community donations this year, but that there would be no IHM Concert. We were wrong.

Concert organizers Francine Brisebois and Joslyn Brodeur, our Heroes for December, have surmounted the many obstacles imposed on us all by the pandemic, including social distancing, masks and the high risk of spreading the virus through group singing, and have worked out a way to present their 29th Annual IHM Christmas Concert.

They have organized a virtual concert featuring: the IHM Church Choir, Kanata Choral Society, Ottawa Catholic School Board Chamber Choir, Ottawa Wind Ensemble - Brass and soloist Susannah Waddington. All proceeds from the concert will be donated to HEFC, enabling us to ensure that our clients can participate in the bounty and good will of the holiday season.

Creating this concert has been no easy task. Each choir submits a separate video, then all videos are combined to create one large video recording. Some choirs will be accompanied by a collage of photos rather than synchronized individual videos, depending on what each group is able to pull together. All will appear to be singing together in harmony even though each singer is videoed separately. This is quite complex and challenging to accomplish technically

This concert is entirely a volunteer effort, including the technical support for each group and the wonderful volunteers with IHM, Chris D'Silva and Michel Cormier, who are putting the whole thing together into the one large video recording which we will be able to view.

Joslyn and Francine are excited about this initiative, and want everyone to know that, during this difficult time it is quite possible to “invent new ways to do things that we love to do”, and to share the joy of the Christmas season with others.

Each year the concert ends with all performers and the audience sharing in the singing of the Halleluiah Chorus, and this year, during these difficult times, that chorus will be even more meaningful to us all. You are invited to participate, from your own homes, in this celebration of new life at Christmas. Your donations will help to make life a bit easier and more hopeful for those of our community who are not only struggling financially but who are feeling isolated and lonely at this time.

You can view the IHM Christmas Concert online through the magic of YouTube and GoFundMe at any time between December 6 and January 6. Freewill donations will be accepted via the GoFundMe link:, after which you will receive the YouTube Virtual Concert link. Should you have any further questions, please contact the concert organizing committee at 613-791-9115.

Members of the Board of HEFC are happy to share information about the service we, all together, provide for our community. Call us at 613 737-9090 or e-mail us at for more information.

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Heron Emergency Food Centre is located at 1480 Heron Road and is open 4 days a week to provide emergency food to people in need in Ottawa South.


A little extra for our clients during the holiday season helps to lift spirits all round – It means so much to someone down on their luck to feel that others care. We like to be able to provide a little extra during this season - Personal toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and deodorant are much appreciated “luxuries” when every penny counts.

We also welcome cash and food donations including tuna, canned vegetables, canned tomato sauce, canned soup, chickpeas, kidney beans, cereal, and snacks for children.

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