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Celebrating Women and Those Who Love Them
Jennifer Hourihan, Cowichan News Leader
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Kathy Skovgaard and Lise LeLievre of the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society show off some of the many unique items to be sold at a silent auction Nov. 22, as part of Diva Fest celebrations to raise money for the society.

A day-long celebration of all things female will raise money for the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society during next weekend's Diva

The multi-faceted event, running Nov. 22 at the Cowichan Centre, includes a women's trade fair, silent auction, fashion show, wine and cheese reception with celebrity guest Vicki Gabereau, and a concert with a full slate of female entertainers.

"Anytime women put their minds to something, a certain energy is created and away we go," says organizer Lise LeLievre of CWAV. "The women who are on board are incredibly excited about it - they're all donating their time and talent."

That includes acclaimed Nanaimo singer-songwriter Allison Crowe, who says she's thrilled to be among the performers in the evening concert.

"I just think it's a really good cause. I'm supportive all the way," she said.

 She'll play her song Lisa's Song, written for a Nanaimo girl who went missing, as well as a cover of Sarah McLachlan's Angel and perhaps others.

Crowe is also looking forward to hearing from other performers.

"I love variety," she said. "I'm really excited to listen to everyone else as well as get up and play."

Others on stage include author and First Nations elder Ellen White, singer/pianist Joelle Rabu, singers Elizabeth Ryan, Susan Rankin and Nicki Deanne; belly dancer Debra Peterson, the Carlson School of Dance, and male impersonators the Shadow Kings.

The event will be hosted by TV and radio personality Gabereau.

"She is the grand diva, really," LeLievre says. "She's got the attitude and the outlook, the enquiring mind. We just though she'd be fabulous."

The trade show will feature booths where women will offer advice and services on topics ranging from reflexology and herbal medicine to business and financial services.

Trade show booths are being encouraged to offer some kind of gift to participants, such as a mini-massage.

 "Something elegant and glorious will be gifted back to you," LeLievre says.

The fashion show will show off items from Island clothing retailers including Reitmans, The Fairy Ring, WINGS and Giggle Gear of Duncan and Lobelia's Lair and Art of Siam from Nanaimo.

Rather than super-skinny traditional teenage models, the clothes will be shown off by local women of all ages, shapes and sizes.

 "It'll be fun because the type of fashions they're showing are for regular people and the models are local people," said the fashion show's host, Katie Harris of Sun-FM.

Silent auction items up for bids throughout the day include art works and crafts, Aquannis Centre passes, and a Herb Rice carving valued at $1,600.

All monies raised go to Cowichan Woman Against Violence's various programs, including counseling for women and children who have been victims of violence, Somenos Transition House and pre-employment programs.

The society is looking to replace funding it lost to government cuts, and ultimately to becoming self-sustaining with events like Diva Fest rather than depending on handouts.

 "We've decided to take the bull by the horns and bring in as much unfettered funding as possible," LeLievre said. "We're offering the community an amazing experience - it's a win-win situation."

The trade show and silent auction runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., with the fashion show at 1 p.m. Admission to those events is $10, $8 for seniors, students and children.

A limited number of tickets are available to a 6:30 p.m. VIP pre-show wine and cheese reception with Gabereau. The $100 price includes front row seats to the 8:30 p.m. concert.

Show tickets alone are $30. All event tickets are available from the Cowichan Ticket Centre at 748-PLAY. A limited number of free tickets for folks in financial difficulty are available from CWAV at 748-7000.