A night of music with a lifetime of impact

Fundraising for SEL programming for Indigenous students across Canada

Joey Duck
Classroom Champions
3 min readNov 18, 2022


Concert For Classrooms, the annual Peter Burgener Memorial Fundraiser Concert featuring Barney Bentall & The Cariboo Express in Calgary, has been one of the city’s best events since it started seven years ago. So, this year our sponsors decided to bring this important fundraising concert not only to Calgary but to Toronto as well!

And we were blown away …

Thanks to the presenting sponsors, Mawer Investment Management and Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, and to Craig and Cara Senyk for their incredible generosity, all of the donations, ticket and sponsor purchases go directly towards supporting social and emotional learning (SEL) programs for schools and students on and off Indigenous reserves in Canada. This programming includes Classroom Champions’ CIRCLE program, which brings Indigenous athlete mentors as role models to Indigenous students so they can learn SEL skills to thrive in AND outside of the classroom.

This year, the two Concert for Classrooms events raised over $250,000 … and counting!

There is still time to donate and have your donation matched by our generous sponsors.

Barney Bentall & The Cariboo Express (left) and local educators and students with Classroom Champions athlete mentor and Canadian Hockey player Brigette Lacquette (right). Photos by Neil Zeller.

Concertgoers at the Bella Concert Hall in Calgary were joined by 3x-Olympic gold medalist and Classroom Champions athlete mentor Jesse Cockney, as well as Shelley Davis Forman and Heather Williams from the Arrowwood Community School in Alberta. Take a minute to watch Global News’s recent piece, Mentorship program offers Alberta students life lessons from top-notch talent,” for insight on Classroom Champions’ CIRCLE programming in action at the Arrowwood Community School.

Ross Roy, Steve Mesler, Craig Senyk, Heather Williams, Jesse Cockney, Shelley Davis Forman. Photo by Neil Zeller.

Classroom Champions ambassadors, 3x-Olympic gold medalist Tessa Virtue and renowned sportscaster Ron MacLean, joined co-founders Steve Mesler and Leigh Parise at the Glenn Gould Studio for the inaugural fundraising event in Toronto. Ahead of the concert, Steve and Tessa chatted with Toronto City News to discuss how world-class athletes are inspiring the next generation through the Classroom Champions educational programs.

Steve Mesler, Tessa Virtue, Jenne MacIssac, Leigh Parise, Ron MacLean, Jay King, Craig Senyk. Photo by William Meijer.

For those that are new to learning about Classroom Champions and want to see exactly where the funds raised go, click here to watch a 2-minute about our CIRCLE program designed for Indigenous communities.

We were blown away by the support for this year’s concerts and cannot wait to be back next year so mark your calendars for Fall 2023!

Barney Bentall & The Cariboo Express. Photo by William Meijer.

Don’t forget, if you still want to donate, your gift will be doubled! Every penny raised is in support of expanding educational programming for schools and communities that serve Indigenous students across Canada.



Joey Duck
Classroom Champions

Joey is a former British track & field athlete who now works for Classroom Champions as Marketing Coordinator.