Blending traditions with core valuesPublished on December 4, 2015

Photo by: Mark Holleron

The dream for Stu Schwartz while growing up in Montreal was to be a radio and television broadcaster. He got his first real break in 1996 at Ottawa’s 106.9 The Bear after doing a morning show stunt, and that was how Stuntman Stu was launched.

After 10 years of hosting with The Bear, Stu segued into television at Rogers and was also the fill-in weather host for CTV Ottawa. Over the years he has been a PA announcer for the CFL’s Ottawa Renegades, and for both the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Stu was hired as the voice of the Ottawa Senators nine years ago, and since 2011 has been the popular host of Stuntman Stu & Angie Poirier on MAJIC 100’s morning show.

Stu’s workday begins early at 3 a.m. and continues into the evening with his gigs as a sought-after MC and auctioneer. His dedicated commitment to community work has been recognized with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Ottawa Mayor’s City Builder Award.

His wife Connie Bernardi, whom he met 20 years ago while they were both students at Algonquin College’s radio broadcasting program, is also a popular radio personality. She grew up in Ottawa in an Italian Catholic family, while he was raised Jewish in Montreal. Their mixed-ceremony wedding was held at City Hall under a chuppah and honoured both of their faiths.

By equally respecting and blending their religions, cultures and family traditions they expose their two children, Matteo, 9, and seven-year-old Isabella, to the best of both worlds. During the holidays Stu is as excited as the kids to get Christmas presents and Connie has learned how to make potato latkes. They continue to strive for a good work-life balance at home in Ottawa and make it work for their family.

STU, WAS IT DIFFICULT TO BLEND YOUR TRADITIONS AND FAITHS TOGETHER? Religion is how you interpret it. It has survived as long as it has for obvious reasons. It is important to respect your faith. Our son had a bris when he was born and both of our children are baptized. They go to a Catholic school but will be attending Hebrew school on Sundays. They celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. Others don’t have to agree with or understand our process, but we would like them to respect our decisions.

CONNIE, HOW DO YOU JUGGLE THE HOLIDAYS WITH YOUR BUSY CAREERS? We both work until Dec. 24. My parents take charge of Christmas Eve. The menu is all fish according to tradition and Stu likes my sister’s garlic shrimp dish. Christmas Day is always at our home and we welcome my parents and other relatives. My dad’s birthday is also on Christmas Day, so it’s a dual celebration of family, food and fun.

STU, HOW DOES THE FAMILY CELEBRATE HANUKKAH? We light the menorah every night during the eight days of Hanukkah and I say the prayer with the kids. In the past, I would hold their hand to light the menorah but now they want to do it on their own. One of the menorahs I have had my whole life. We have one night of presents only during that period as it gets excessive when you also have gifts on Christmas Day.

CONNIE, WHAT HAS BECOME A FAVOURITE TRADITION WITH STU? Since our first Christmas spent together, Stu has given me a new tree ornament and also one for the kids. I add to this collection by buying him Star of David ornaments which we hang on our very full tree.

STU, DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL HOLIDAY ROUTINE YOU FOLLOW? I put up the tree on a Sunday one month before Christmas, as well as the outdoor lights. Then I stand back and watch the kids decorate it with Connie while I enjoy a glass of wine in the kitchen and watch football.

STU, DO YOUR CHILDREN GET INVOLVED IN GIVING BACK DURING THE HOLIDAYS? It’s part of my DNA. We have explained the importance of this since they were young enough to understand that some people are just not as fortunate. They help collect unwrapped toys for Toy Mountain, which the Salvation Army ensures will get to needy children for Christmas morning. I have told them that when they are older to get involved in a charity that really means something to them. I created the #NoMoreBullies initiative from my own personal experience, and this partnership between Youth Net / Réseau Ado, the Canadian Red Cross and MAJIC 100 helps students deal with the effects of bullying.

Vera Cody

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