THUNDER BAY – The youth are starting to take leadership roles in spreading the message that help is needed. Six youth delegates from First Nations across Canada are in Europe, headed to Geneva and a United Nations Conference to share their stories.
Back home in Canada, Wes Prankard, a 13 year old philanthropist has announced a goal for his third annual March-break campout. Upon hearing the news that Attawapiskat Ontario, a remote First Nations reserve on James Bay, declared a state of emergency over their housing crisis, Wes knew he needed to do something.
First word of government aid announced $500,000 in funds to assist the community. The amount got Wes thinking. His past two March campouts raised over $5,000 each, so logically, if he could recruit 100 others to camp and each raise $5000, they would match the governments commitment to aid. And so, the #Campout2012 campaign was born.
This latest project involves recruiting 100 other kids (and adults) to camp for 50 hours March 14-16, either in their hometown or alongside him in the Falls. The goal is to have each child get 100 sponsors, each donating $1.00 per hour for a total of $5,000 per child – $500,000 total.
The logistical challenge wasn’t the fundraiser itself, but the challenge of how to disperse he funds fairly. Initial thought was given to building two new homes in Attawapiskat. But then the question: Who gets the homes, and what about everyone else that needs a home? When Wes began asking those kinds of questions, he was introduced to The Payukotayno Housing Authority.
Payukotayno explained that because of the housing crisis in Attawapiskat, around James Bay and on many other reserves, many children placed in foster care cannot stay in their communities. Caring families simply can’t accommodate them in their already overcrowded home. And so, foster children often have to be sent hundreds of miles away. Wes is partnering with Payukatayno to build safe and loving homes for families, so that foster children can be cared for close to home, where they belong.
“I really caught on because people are living in Third World conditions in Ontario, and so I thought that this is totally unfair, especially that nobody’s taking action. And so I thought, I have to,” Wes said.
“About 1,800 people live in Attawapiskat, where a housing shortage has forced families to live in tents and unheated trailers. Many do not have running water or electricity.”
Wes was in Ottawa this past weekend having been picked by the National Hockey League, the National Hockey League Players Association and Free The Children as one of three All-Star World Changers.
Recently, he was named first runner in One Dream’s “Canada’s Next Top Young Philanthropist”