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Musicians travel to several northern communities each year to hold fiddle and guitar workshops.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

The donors: Jason Roth and Cheryl Steadman-Roth

The gift: $120,000

The cause: The Tusarnaarniq Sivumut Association (TSA)

The reason: To fund musical education in Nunavut

A few years ago Jason Roth and his wife, Cheryl Steadman-Roth, were attending a folk festival in Nova Scotia when one of the performers, Greg Simm, began talking about his involvement with an innovative music program in Nunavut.

The program is called the Tusarnaarniq Sivumut Association (Inuktitut for “Music for the Future”) and it was co-founded in 2009 by Julie Lohnes-Cashin. She taught in Nunavut for three years and started a fiddling workshop for children in 2007 just before returning to Nova Scotia. Ms. Lohnes-Cashin has kept the TSA going thanks to the volunteer efforts of Mr. Simm and other musicians who travel to several northern communities each year to hold fiddle and guitar workshops. Nearly 1,000 students in six communities have participated in the training and many students now teach other children. The TSA has also provided more than 80 instruments to students.

The organization struck a chord with the Roths, who live just outside Halifax in Hubley, N.S. Mr. Roth is a semi-retired psychologist with a life-long passion for music while Ms. Steadman-Roth worked as a librarian in schools across rural Nova Scotia for years and saw the importance of music instruction. The couple began donating money to the TSA about three years ago and so far they have contributed $120,000. Mr. Roth said the program has already transformed many lives and he hopes it will expand to more communities. “With all that needs improving and fixing and protecting in the world, here’s a chance to do something concrete in a small way, but in a way which helps not only the people that it’s targeting, but those people in turn help others,” he said.

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