THUNDER BAY – The Victoria Inn was the scene of a barbecue for the people of Sandy Lake First Nation who are currently evacuated from their homes due to the forest fires ravaging the region.
The goal of the event put on by the Regional Multicultural Youth Centre, Eat Local Pizza and Pastry, and NetNewsledger.com was to work to bring smiles to the faces of the youth, and to give the parents a respite from some of the stress of the issues they are facing.
The people were treated to some amazing pepperoni pizza created by Jim Stadey and his team at Eat Local Pizza, as well as hotdogs, cold drinks and the warm enthusiasm of the RMYC.
It was excitement that even encouraged Premier Dalton McGuinty to step up and serve the hotdogs to the people.
Bill Mauro the MPP for the riding was on hand to offer some support and assurance to the people as well.
Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs was on hand to help direct traffic in the line-up and make sure people were having a good time.
Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry Michael Gravelle was also on hand earlier in the event.
“Thanks to the NAN staff for supporting the idea so that our Youth Council members could have an opportunity to help the evacuees. I also feel that things went quite well. More people who were out came later, and we had to make more hot dogs until 7:30 p.m. Luckily, we did not run out of hot dogs,” enthused Moffat Makuto, from the Multicultural Youth Centre.
Tina Reed helped with a donation of games and toys for the youth. The team at the Victoria Inn co-ordinating the evacuees shared that crafts, children’s clothes and toys are still needed. Tina stated tonight, “By sharing the Sandy Lake Fire evacuees story earlier today, and by donating games, toys, books, food and your time; you also share the many smiles I witnessed from that act of kindness”.
Reed also thanked “The Sandy Lake community members for allowing us all an opportunity to care for one another”!
Mayor Hobbs has invested time and energy into forging solid ties with our First Nations communities in the North. It was evident that effort is appreciated. People were coming up to the Mayor to thank him and to get their pictures taken with them.
One small young man, about four, was completely fascinated by the two Thunder Bay Police Service officers who were attending the event. Our two law enforcement representatives served as fantastic ambassadors, answering the young man’s questions and likely building the foundation for a solid future with him.
Friday’s effort came together with the help of many people. It started with the request from Lydia Big George, the NAN Economic & Resource Development Manager and Jason Smallboy, the NAN Economic Resource Development Coordinator to host today’s event.
That call came at about 9AM, and the team swung into gear.
By 5:00, everything was going. Anyone in Thunder Bay who doubts the resiliance and enthusiasm of youth needs to learn that when young people start working, everything is possible. Putting everything together involved some serious social networking on Facebook, and a few emails and telephone calls.
It was the start of a night that will wind down at Scuttlebutts with a youth event with Rodney Brown opening, an open mic session, and then some hip-hop music for the young and young at heart.
One of the goals in our city, should be realizing that many of the young people from Sandy Lake First Nation, are likely to come to Thunder Bay to attend high school one day.
Our community by reaching out to them and sharing the best of Thunder Bay can build relationships that will stay with those young people for years to come.
All photographs by Farisai Makuto and the Regional Youth Multicultural Youth Centre.