‘It’s the biggest hug:’ Benefit concert held for fire-stricken houseboaters

The couple’s beloved houseboat burned down in mid-May

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Until this past weekend, Stephan Hervieux hadn’t spoken publicly about the events of May 15.

That was the day the Kimberlite – a beloved houseboat owned by Stephan and his partner Allyce Hervieux – was reduced to a pile of smoldering ashes on Yellowknife Bay following a devastating early morning fire.

Two occupants managed to escape the blaze, but the houseboat – a familiar sight among a cluster of colourful houseboats dotting the postcard-perfect shores of Yellowknife’s Old Town – was lost.

At a benefit concert for the young couple held Saturday at Old Town Glassworks, in front of dozens of Yellowknife residents and visiting guests who once called the city their home, Hervieux said the Kimberlite was “more than just a building.”

“It’s memories. It’s love,” he said.

Organized by Old Town Glassworks owner Matthew Grogono and sponsored by Radio Taïga, the concert was headlined by George Tuccaro and the Don’t Give Up Your Day Job Band, with special guests including Tracy Riley, Andrea Bettger, Earl McAuley, Pat Braden, John Tees, George Mandeville, Norbert Poitras and Felipe Gomez.

The “fun raiser,” which included a live auction, raised funds in support of the couple.

Hervieux, who said he has wanted to live in a houseboat since he was a child,  told the audience he hopes to use the funds to rebuild “the only home I’d ever call home,” he said.

It might not ever be the same, he said, but, then again, it could be even better.

“The Kimberlite shall rise again,” said Hervieux.

With Old Town Glassworks typically holding mid-summer events, Grogono said he’d been looking for a local cause to support when everything “just sort of fell together.”

“(Radio Taïga) totally jumped on board and they made it really easy,” he said. “It was was kind of serendipitous.”

Hervieux told Yellowknifer he was “so grateful” for the fundraiser and the community’s support.

“It’s the biggest hug. It’s the biggest ‘I love you.’ It’s saying, ‘you’re not alone,” he said.

He called the response a testament to what the community of Old Town, and Yellowknife as a whole, is all about.

Within hours of the fire, he said, community members and fellow houseboaters – “caregivers of the lake,” as he called them – pulled together to retrieve debris from the ice – ensuring none of the charred remains would sink into the lake.

“Yellowknife is that community,” he said. “These are the people of Old Town and I love every single human being in this community.”

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