The Moose Jaw Shriners have donated 10s of thousands worth of instruments to the Peacock Collegiate Band program, and by extension to all of Prairie South School Division, and executives said they are very glad to think they’ll be put to good use. 

Discover Moose Jaw News spoke with Shriner executives Gord Shabbits and Gary Vieser outside the Peacock band room.

“We had what we call ‘units’ and we would do parades, so we had like a military band, we had the marching band, the Oriental band, equestrian team, oh man, so many things,” Vieser explained. 

“But, aging demographics and we’re losing members, too, and some of them just can’t do the things that we used to do.” 

Shabbits, president of the Moose Jaw Shriners, said the instruments have been in storage for years. The Shriners are children-focused — their Shriners Children’s hospital network is one of the largest pediatric healthcare systems in the world — so it didn’t take long to decide where the more than 25 drums, tubas, clarinets, French horns, and more should end up. 

“I thought, with the executive, that we’d like to see them go to somebody that’s going to use them. And consequently, we ended up with the schools. 

“And I’m sure they’ll get well used here,” Shabbit added. He listened a moment and laughed, “They already are!” 

“With band, unfortunately there’s a lot of students who don’t have their own instruments, right, and are having to use rentals,” said Casey Ling, band teacher at Peacock. “Having this donation of instruments, it just means a lot to a lot of students, especially students who may not be able to afford those (rental) fees. 

“Being able to have band, and music, made more accessible, is just huge.” 

Ling said that unlike more straightforward classes such as math or chemistry, band class can represent a safe space for students — a group they can call their own and feel they belong to. 

“Just in the 10-15 minutes of unloading these instruments into the school, tons of my students are already, like, messing around, going, ‘Oh, Mr. Ling, what’s this thing?’ 

“I have no doubt these will be put to good use.” 

Darran Teneycke, superintendent of school operations for Prairie South, said the donation from the Shriners will have a big impact. 

“This is definitely a significant gift,” he noted. “Purchasing these brand-new, you’re looking at $1,000-plus for (each) of these instruments. 

“We have a number of students that can’t afford (to rent or buy), and so we have a supply of instruments, but anytime we can add to that supply, it just gives more students an opportunity to be involved with band.”