After only two years since it was first established, the Canadian Military Wives Choir (CMWC) is rapidly expanding across the country, having added three new choirs this year alone.
First established in Ottawa in 2013, the choir expanded to Comox earlier this year. The newest additions to the CMWC are Petawawa and Edmonton, both joining in September. There are also talks of choirs being established in Greenwood and North Bay.
We’re trying to expand and we’d love to see a choir on every base across Canada. That’s our dream,” said Sue Palmer, founder of CMWC.
Palmer brought the idea of a military wives choir over from England, where she was part of the Military Wives Choirs. The Military Wives Choirs has over 75 choirs across the island nation and some locations on the European continent.
“If the ladies move from location to location they instantly fit into the new choir and they’ve got an instant batch of new friends. That’s what it’s about really,” said Palmer.
With the expansion of CMWC, several members of the newly established choirs met in Ottawa in October to create a CMWC Board of Directors as an umbrella organization.
Bases and wings wanting to establish their own choir must contact the board of directors. They are required to adhere to the CMWC’s constitution.
“Our core values really are that we exist to support military wives. It’s all about being inclusive. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t musical you don’t have to perform if you don’t want to. It’s all about bringing people together,” explained Palmer.
The original Ottawa choir that started with 15 women is now at a membership of 60. The choir visits churches and local senior homes, particularly ones that house veterans while adding several high-profile events throughout the year. The CMWC is quickly rising in popularity and is approached by organizations requesting a performance.
The ladies recently performed at an Ottawa Senators game for CAF Appreciation Night. They’ve been asked back to perform at Parliament Hill for the Illumination Ceremony on Dec. 2. Also, on the calendar of events is their performance with the Central Band of the CAF in their Christmas concerts at Centrepointe Theatre in Nepean.
The choir tries to sing music that is inclusive to women of all backgrounds. When leaving England, Palmer was gifted with the music of the Military Wives Choirs to use free of charge that includes a variety of pop music.
Looking back at the past two years, Palmer is moved by the warm reception the idea has received in Canada.
“It’s amazing for me, as it is, to come over and set it up in Ottawa and just hear the ladies starting to refer each other as sisters. The choir is a family. I recently got a Facebook picture from the ladies in Petawawa singing silent night and I cried a bit. It’s just amazing to see ladies benefiting from this. It’s such a powerful support network,” stated Palmer.
For more information or to start a choir in your location visit their website.