WATCH: Future of Ste. Anne's Veterans Hospital's annual cabaret in jeopardy after 70 years
There were over 100 veterans, friends and family on hand Saturday for what could be the last ever New Year's Eve cabaret held at the Ste. Anne's Veterans Hospital.
“When you spark them up with a bit of music, just to see the spark in their eyes, their youth again, and of course, music is great medicine," said Belfast Andi, who has played the cabaret for the past 16 years.
The cabaret has been held annually since 1946, put on to entertain returning veterans from the Second World War.
Korean war vet Joe Mell has been organizing it for the past 65 years.
“Every time you turned around, you saw somebody that had been at Vimy or others,” he said. “It’s something I wanted to keep in my own mind and something I look forward to doing every year.”
“I see the vets in a happy mood and really getting some of the support and comfort and friendship they deserve,” he said, explaining the holiday season brings its share of difficulties for some vets.
Changes in funding and administration at the hospital—now being run by the province instead of the federal government through Veterans Affairs—has put the cabaret in jeopardy, after 70 years of performances.
The Royal Canadian Legion was able to step in and secure the needed funding to put on the show this year, but things are up in the air for next year and beyond.
Melodie Chambers came to the cabaret with a relative being cared for at the hospital. She calls the cabaret an annual tradition that would be impossible to replace if lost.
“It’s a real sense of family, especially right now, getting in a new year,” she said. “It’s important for us to show the children that it’s important to keep the family going.”
—with files from CTV Montreal Reporter Amanda Kline