Thursday 30 July 2015

Francine Dunberry

Jewellery that Celebrates Earth’s Gems

by Nancy Snipper

Francine Dunberry is a one-of-a kind jeweller. Her innovative designs called Les Bijoux de l’Âme are not only peacefully appealing, they resonate exquisite beauty in execution and effect. In a single necklace, she captures graceful forms with stones, beads and wiring – all meshing together in a sublime composition.

Adornments are not flashy; rather, like the magnetic force of its timeless origins – the earth’s minerals and stones – each final creation attracts compelling compliments; it draws in the onlooker and one is entranced.

Her designs are unique and organic. Visually and texturally, they are true masterpieces; each integral part flows into a climatic whole, such as the necklace pendants that make any woman feel like an eternal but humble goddess.

I love the clasps of her necklaces and bracelets

Francine uses all kinds of materials in her designs: quartz, crystal, pearls, copper beads, fine gems – many enhanced with hand-made lace and delicate wiring.

With her dexterity, imagination and empathic gifts, she lovingly creates earrings, bracelets, broaches, watches, hair clips and more. Detailed parts are understated offerings that invite discovery each time one wears a piece.

“Sometimes, I will work an entire day on one small broach; other days, my creations come to me quickly and I work swiftly before the inspiration leaves me.” 

One can’t create such works of beauty without being spiritually driven.
“I start my day with meditation, and in my relaxed state, I’m ready to take on earth’s jewelled message. Each piece begins to form in my mind and take its place in the world.”

“Jewellery is like a crafted song; I allow emotions to speak to me as I create. My bracelets, for example, were made during emotional highs and lo the item. For example my sadness clasp bracelet has holes in it to represent loss. 

Yet there is exciting contrast; the appliqué wiring speaks of energy and complexity in relationships.
She feels her jewellery heals through its connective qualities to the person wearing it. They are a form of tangible therapy.

Francine Dunberry accepts commissions.

All photos by Sophie Dunberry Poissant

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Parc National du Mont-Saint-Bruno

Lovely Lakes within a Legacy of Human Reverence

Reviewed by Nancy Snipper

A warm welcoming on a beautiful summer’s day
Arriving at the reception area of this unique Sépaq park, I noticed how happy and helpful the gal at the reception desk was. Her name was Isabelle Pothier, and having spoke a few days before via phone to her colleague, Philippe Quesnel manager of the entire welcoming program, I realized that both these bilingual people resonates the sparkling spirit of Monteregie’s Mont-Saint-Bruno – a special park where humanity, humility and heavenly sights merge.

Nature’s plethora of remarkable diversity
Only 40 minutes from Montreal, Mont-Saint-Bruno puts you in another world. Its tranquility and impressive nature vanquishes any city angst. Birdsong and rushing streams are the immediate sounds you might hear. From the balletic movement of white tail deer to the delicate darting of bright blue damsel flies. 

Mont-Saint-Bruno is a feast for the senses; everything harmoniously blends, transforming you into a deep state of relaxation lie in a field or look at a lake) and exhilaration (hike, walk jog) Judging by the impeccable state of the park, it’s hard to believe that its 8.8 kilometres – a modest size compared to Sépaq ’s 26 other parks – receives almost 900,000 visitors year-round!
After perusing the cute and useful items one can buy at the greeting centre (take a look at those Sépaq animal buttons – one for every park), I was greeted by the exuberant Suzie Laliberté, one of the park’s three ranger/naturalists. I was lucky to have her as my guide. We got into her go-cart, a compact open-air way to travel, and off we went.

The human imprint
Suzie proved to be an invaluable resource in adding to my understanding of the park’s history, biodiversity and human habitation. There is more to this oasis of water, deer, and the glorious greenery than meets the eye, for aside from the 200 species of birds, 15 kinds of fish, six kinds of reptiles and 500 species of plants, a remarkable vestige of remnants echo the voices of those who once lived here. 
As Suzie recreated the history of three specific types of settlements here, I was to discover that I was treading on paths once walked on almost 400 years ago by France’s appointed Seigneury (lordship) de Montarville (1711-1850). A mill to grind wheat still stands. It dates back to 1741. Its stone exterior houses century-old furniture used by present-day park-goers who enjoy its history in another way; it’s now a teahouse. What a lovely salon ambiance – a unique place to hold your corporate meetings or celebratory salon affairs.

Later on, a different type of leadership lay down roots – a religious order dedicated to both preserving and tastefully enhancing the natural surroundings.  Les Frères de Saint-Gabriel moved into the park in 1980. They established a school, demolished in 1990, but there’s a memorial, a farm (a red barn still remains). 

There is also an old orchard, a cemetery and a small replica of the sanctuary of Lourdes – a cave where they came to worship. 

Look at the demure meditation pond with flowers in it and all around its small perimeter where they came to contemplate.  Beckoning you from its watery spot is a stunning shaded canopy of trees – 50 kinds in this secluded area called, the arboretum. 

Solitary and tranquil anything that harkens back to the order creates a feeling of love and adoration of God and nature living in harmony But no matter where you walk – whether on the four main trails that are 30 kilometres in length – or on the interweaving 4­kilometre-long network of narrow rustic ones, you are sure to discover your own piece of privacy – a privilege few parks afford these days. 

Mansions and lakes
Modern times brought million-dollar mansions. Discrete and hidden by trees, nine privat4e homes poke up along parts of the perimeter of the park’s largest of its five lakes: Lac Segneurial. Each lake has its own quay from which to admire the view, but there is no fishing or swimming. 

Sépaq has carefully put a rope up along the perimeter of these lakes – even the two ponds near the reception centre to ensure no human being treads on this precious land/water area.

I loved stopping at each and every lake; Lac du Moulin with its three-arched stone bridge under which nestle lily pads. 

Set yourself right down on the bench to stare at the lily pads

Lac des Bouleaux offers its own magic as does the wild more remote Lac à la Tortue – the only lake that does not offer a jut-out quay over the water.

Mont-Saint-Bruno’s website is:
Phone # 1-800-865-6527

Tuesday 14 July 2015

The Ethnic Show


July12th, 7:30 pm, Club Soda

Reviewed by Nancy Snipper

A hilarious jaunt into the hazards of being “different”

What a superb line-up of comedic talent. Hosted by the toweringly tall awesomely engaging Alonzo Bodden, the show zoomed in on the hot singular topic of society’s treatment of ethnics. 

Alonzo Bodden
 The comedians represented were an Asian Australian, an Italian, a French Canadian Arab, a Jew, a Nigerian Londoner, and of course Bodden himself an Afro-American.
Bodden used the audience to start the show by asking individuals their ethnicity/ background, and then the funny lines came. One of his funniest jokes was about why White Supremists are called that:  he commented that they look like the most unsupreme people in the world, referring to their potbellies, and drug smoking ways. Bodden also created some funny Canadian content jokes making fun of Americans and their ignorance of Canada. One particular crazy moment was when he said the best way to get    health care is to be in a car accident because you get full insurance; a car accident would get you help. He also talked about the creepy look of guys and called the “rapey” look of guys even worse. Very funny.

Frank Spadone was the contingency for comic relief. He was pretty bullet-fast brilliant in his wind up about controlling Italian mother-in-laws. He launched into imitation mode of her obsessive directives to him while inside the car and getting out of it, telling him at every move what to do. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t compare to the other comedians; their material was contemporary; his old hat.
Frank Spadone
Rachid Badouri is really funny to watch and his material equally funny to hear. He’s like an elastic band in his movements and his Parkinson joke was punch-funny appropriate. He’s well known in the francophone circuit of comedy, and his crossover into the anglo audience is a true success. Of course, he made some hysterical jokes about hanging out in school with non Arabs. Students viewed him as a cultural quirk – a creature from another planet, and so they tried to trap him with a butterfly net, but things moved up the notch for him with his coterie of pals: “They eventually let me play superpower games, where one kid got to be Superman, another Spiderman, and they told me I could be Aladdin – and even gave me a carpet.” He said he can’t even fly a kite these days because he’s Arab and that doesn’t work for airports. His jokes got him endlessly high laughs.
Rachid Badouri

Ronny Chieng was not a favourite, though his no frills airplane attack had its moments, especially when he referred to an Asian airline offering return flights at $50. “You can’t die twice”. 
Ronny Chieng

 New Yorker, Dan Naturman has a funny whiny voice that suited his material. He started on marriage and how his friends try to sell it, but their lack of enthusiasm is evident. “It’s really difficult; you have to work at it. “He made the car comparison using a monotone voice saying (paraphrasing here), “Can you imagine selling cars that way? It’s really difficult; you have to work it using the same words.”
Dan Naturman

Popular comic was Gina Yashere. Her jokes about returning to her roots, and going back to Nigeria to check it out were hysterical. She wanted to get out of there as soon as possible, “They kill you there.” A proud lesbian she did a hysterical take on her absolute fumbling of the male member, using the long microphone to do it.
Gina Yashere

Ahmed Ahmed
 Likewise, one of my favourites was the star, Ahmed Ahmed; he was daring and awesome. His recreation of what it’s like to get pulled aside at airports – almost every time – because of his name – was side splitting. His brilliant imitation of being pulled into the “brown room” – the place where everyone of colour is there, including an over-tanned Caucasian was genius. He launched into a shtick of the Afro-American customs woman who calls high authorities to report him. (I had the same thing happen to me when I was robbed in Mexico, and I was pulled into that very room, and a beady-eyed black woman gave me nothing but trouble). I swear Ahmed’s imitation of her was exactly a duplicate of the one I had to deal with. Ahmed also said that she seems to appear at every customs point.” Do they hologram her? “

His imitation of ISIS propaganda on TV was equally so.  His voice and body turned into a great exaggeration of the murderous thugs. It allowed us to laugh at them – a perfect example of the benefits of comic relief – we laugh at even the most brutal of groups and horrendous situations.

The Ethnic Show runs until July 19 at Club Soda, 1225 St-Laurent Blvd. For reservations, call 514-845-2322 or visit

See Nancy Snipper's reviews of shows seen at Zoofest