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Saskatoon-based Cree musicians return from unforgettable Grammys experience – Saskatoon

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A pair of Saskatoon musicians have returned from a Grammys experience that included selfies with the Backstreet Boys and a limousine ride booked by Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union.

In 2001, Jacob Faithful co-founded a group called Young Spirit, which included members of the Frog Lake First Nation. Its 16 members now come from across Western Canada and parts of the United States.


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The group’s goal is to empower young people through traditional Indigenous drumming and singing, Faithful said, but they never imagined they would make it to Music’s Biggest Night.

“All we wanted to do was send a message out there and be part of something great,” Faithful said.

Faithful was shocked to learn of the band’s nomination, as was his 16-year-old son and band mate, Jarron Gadwa. Both are from Frog Lake, but live in Saskatoon.

“Three weeks ago, I was writing my Grade 11 finals and to know that I’m going to the Grammys, is honestly, crazy,” Gadwa said.

Young Spirit made its Grammys debut Sunday, after the band’s album “Mewasinsational – Cree Round Dance Songs” was nominated in best regional roots category.

Another artist took the award, but Young Spirit had an unforgettable experience, including being driven to their hotel in a Rolls Royce limo arranged by actresses Alba and Union.

Young Spirit attends the 61st annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019, in Los Angeles, California.

John Kopaloff / Getty Images

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“They actually made a cake for us and it had the album cover of our nominated CD,” Gadwa said.

Reaching the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the group walked the same red carpet as the likes of Drake, Lady Gaga and Dolly Parton.


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“I thought it was pretty cool when the Backstreet Boys came up to us and asked to have a picture and [that we were part of their playlists on their phones,” Faithful said.

In a rare occurrence, officials with the Grammys arranged for Young Spirit to perform on the red carpet.

As the drums came out, the commotion of media interviews came to a stop.

“All the cameras turned toward us. It was pretty neat to see these famous musicians taking out their phones and trying to record us singing,” Faithful said.

One organizer said it was the first time she’d seen a red carpet performance like that in her 18 years of experience, Faithful recalled.

“Thank you so much for doing that for us. You just changed the vibe of the whole red carpet,” he recalled the woman saying.


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Seeing Cree round dance music on the international stage shows the “significant gift” that First Nations people have to offer, according to Tribal Chief Mark Arcand of the Saskatoon Tribal Council.

“It really provides … role models for our younger people to get our language and culture back. People flock to it,” Arcand said.

Young Spirit’s next album is set to be released in April.

“If we end up at the Grammy Awards next year, sure,” Faithful said with a shrug.

“But if we don’t, then you know what? We had an awesome time.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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