Bad News and Good News

 

Tomorrow is the beginning of March Break. Every year for the past 3 years, I have spent the first 24-48 hours camping out to raise
funds and awareness for some very important issues surrounding First Nations children. (poverty, homelessness, education and the lack of access to playgrounds).

This year, I am very sad to announce that we won’t be doing the campout. We tried a few different ideas to make it a huge deal, but none of them worked out and now we are out of time. So, that’s the bad news.

The good news is pretty good though.

We are right in the middle of a huge process to re-brand Northern Starfish with a whole new look. We are getting a new website as a part of this as well as T-shirts and all kinds of cool stuff that will help us to do more to raise positive awareness to the issues surrounding First Nations Children on and off reserve. All of this is made possible by the amazing generosity of a man who heard about Northern Starfish and the work we are doing and was inspired to use his talents to #DoSomething (if you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that’s a hashtag I use alot).
I can’t wait to show you all the stuff he’s been working on!

So – we’re doing that. As well, we are taking this time to really get organized and focused on the future. I saw a tweet today that said something like “Train for success like it’s a marathon, but run sprints too”. Since I was 11 years old and found out that there were people  in Canada living in third-world conditions, we have been running sprints. I still don’t understand how in my community we have 55 playgrounds while there are many remote northern communities that don’t have even one.
I don’t understand how it is fair that I can go to the tap and pour myself a glass of water when there are families (2000 people in Attawapiskat for instance) that share one community tap  - and still have to boil the water before it is safe to drink.
I don’t think it’s fair that I receive 3000-5000 more than a First Nations kid every year for my public education because of where I was born or what race my parents are. There are so many things that are not fair and I have been running to try to make a difference.

(ps. if you weren’t aware, right now, the government of Canada is facing charges of racial discrimination in a human rights tribunal. You can – and should – learn more about it here: http://www.fncaringsociety.ca/i-am-witness)

Instead of sprinting ahead into another campout and a playground build this summer as we had planned, we are stepping back and preparing for the marathon that I believe will see the end of prejudice in my lifetime.

With the help of my dad and some great mentors, we are taking this time to finally apply for our charity stastus. This is huge because, not only will it allow us to give receipts for donations, but it will also allow us to go after some grants. Our goal is to have our charity number this year and line up three playground builds on the James Bay coast next summer.
I am also right now taking this time to talk to businesses and foundations about supporting the vision to build a playground in every remote northern community that doesn’t have one. That way, once we become a registered charity, we will be able to use 100% of private donations to provide a safe place for kids to play. You will know that your money wasn’t used for travel or office stuff, but that every penny you give goes to bringing hope to kids who otherwise may never see a playground.

Next week I am speaking at Ryerson University, then at a couple of Toronto schools the week after that, then to a group of children’s pastors at their conference and then to 1500 kids at the Count Me In conference in Mississauga. I’m still running sprints :) but – I really do appreciate your support as we kind of take a step back and re-group to train for the marathon that sees justice win. I am so proud to be a part of making history with you all.

Wes

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Campout 2012 Begins This Wednesday!

We are finalizing out plans for #Campout2012

The 50 hour campout begins on Wednesday at 2:00pm and wraps up with an afterparty/tweetup Friday at 6:30pm. (Click here for details)

For all the why, what and where’s of the campout, please visit this post: http://northernstarfish.org/donate/

 

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Let’s Camp Out!

Ok, so I know a lot of people have been waiting for this post. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting but we have a ton of details to pull together to make this happen.

This past October, the First Nations community of Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency. People were living in tents and shacks and winter was coming. Many of you donated non-perishable food, clothing, blankets and much needed winter survival items. Thank you! You made a difference.

Right now the government is sending 22 new homes to Attawapiskat. I am so happy that people all over the world have seen and heard about the conditions in Attawapiskat and many First Nations Reserves. I am happy that people care and want to make a difference.

When Chief Spence declared the state of emergency, I knew I had to do something. My friends were in trouble.
You can read all about my first ideas in the post: A State Of Emergency in Attawapiskat
I said in that post that we would raise $500,000 in this year’s Campout to help, but we really didn’t know how to begin helping. Do we build houses? Do we repair houses? Who’s house gets built or repaired? And what about all the other people that need homes?

So, we started talking, and asking and learning.

Here’s what I learned: The housing crisis in Attawapiskat, on James Bay, and in hundreds of other First Nations reserves affects everyone in the community – and especially the kids.

Sometimes, just like where I live, kids have to be moved from their family and into a foster home. The problem on many First Nation reserves is that there is no homes for these kids to go to, and so they are sent hundreds of miles away. Hundreds of miles away from their families and the support of their community.

On March 14th, I am camping out for 50 hours. I am looking for 100 people who will sponsor me for $1.00 for every hour I camp out.
I am also looking  for 100 other kids (or adults) who will camp out with me or in their own community, each of them asking 100 people to sponsor them for $1.00 for every hour.

We need to build safe homes in Aboriginal communities, including homes for foster children.

Let’s help build safe houses, so foster children can stay close to home, where they need to be [or, where they belong]

Let’s help build homes so families can work together and heal

Whether you are a camper or a sponsor, together, we can  build safe homes, and bring foster children back to their communities, where they belong.  Families can then work together, to rehabilitate and heal.

Help us build safe and loving homes. 

ATTENTION CAMPERS: if you are interested in joining me in the campout, sign up for information here:

Click Here To Be A Camper

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Hey Simcoe St. Stingers!

I had an awesome time meeting you all today at your assembly!. I hope you had a great time too.
Thank you for caring so much about others to give. The money you collected in your classes came to almost $100! It will be used to help build the very next playground. Thank you!

I wanted to remind you that you can make a difference. Just like Collette Colvin, Craig Keilburber and Shannen Koostachin.

Maybe today because it’s Random Acts Of Kindness Day, it’s easier to think that you can “be the change”, but really, if you think about it and make every day Random Acts of Kindness Day, we could all change our world together.
Don’t you think?

Please remember to tak a minute and visit the website for Shannen’s Dream Learn about her and her dream of safe and comfy schools for all First Nations children. And please sign your name to support her dream as well.

Please come back often. I hope to see you all again soon.
Wes

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The Dream of A Playground For Attawapiskat Realized!

After a long year of campaigning, fundraising, scratching and clawing, Wes’s dream of a playground in every remote northern community has begun to be realized.

This past week was memorable on so many fronts. The playground was completed the morning of Wes’s 13th birthday. How perfect was that?

We want to extend a very big thank you to Pepsi for all of their support throughout this process. Thank you for believing in a kid’s dream.

CRCS Recreation – you guys went above and beyond! Melissa, Chantal, Joe and Brant; you guys worked so hard and with open hearts, words cannot express the gratitude we have for you all.

AND – all of you who voted, donated, campaigned and put up with our unrelenting harassment… Thank you. Attawapiskat has a playground because of all of you. The joy and hope you have brought to this community will live on for generations.

Plans are already in the works for the next community. Watch for updates – and be a part of another life-changing experience.

Meegwetch (Thank you)

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Vote now for young Niagarans


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Big Dreams For James Bay – Niagara This Week


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Walking With Wes – Bullet News

 

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Niagara Falls Review – June 16, 2010

Lockout hurts fundraiser

By TONY RICCIUTO Niagara Falls Review

Updated 2 days ago

For Bob Prankard, the Canada Post lockout couldn’t have come at a worse time.

His son, Wes, is in the final push to raise money to build a playground in Attawapiskat. Wes is walking a total of 1,287 kilometres, which is the distance between Niagara Falls and Attawapiskat, and is asking for 1,000 people to sponsor him for $10.

“We’ve received messages from people from as far away as Florida, saying that they’ve dropped a cheque in the mail,” said Bob. “With approximately $7,800 left to raise, this could really prove as a major challenge to his efforts.”

On Wednesday, the federal government said it plans to legislate an end to the postal strike. That came hours after Canada Post locked out workers who had been staging rotating strikes.

Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers are engaged in a contract dispute and each side is blaming the other for not being able to reach a settlement.

Key issues include pensions, wages as well as health and safety matters.

CUPW launched a series of 24-hour rotating strikes, which the company says has cost them millions in lost revenue. On Wednesday, workers in Niagara Falls showed up for work and found they had been locked out.

Mark Thomson, secretary-treasurer for CUPW Local 574 in Niagara Falls, said his members went to work prepared to deliver mail on Wednesday.

“They have done something that is totally irresponsible by locking out their workers who came in and wanted to work today,” said Thomson. “The lockout has trapped a lot of mail in the system, which people have paid for, and it shows a lot of disrespect for their workers and customers of Canada Post.”

While Canada Post says mail volumes are down by 50% and it has been losing money, the union argues that’s simply not the case.

“If they would let you go inside the building and see how much mail is stacked up at everybody’s desk to deliver, it’s unbelievable. We haven’t had that much mail in years,” said Thomson.

 

“That mail should have been delivered today, but it’s sitting in different postal facilities because they locked everybody out last night.”

Some people who drove past the Queen St., post office Wednesday shouted nasty remarks at mail carriers walking the picket line, while some other drivers waved their arms or honked their horns to show their support for the workers.

“This is not a case like GM where they were losing money and they needed to have concessions. Canada Post is making money. We hope the public realizes we want to go to work, but they are not allowing us to do that,” said Thomson.

Paula DeWilde is another resident who has been impacted by the strike. She has hundreds of dollars worth of medical prescription receipts that need to be mailed to her insurance company, so she can be reimbursed for money she has spent from her own pocket.

The insurance company will not accept a fax of the receipts and the only other option she has is to send them out by courier service, which costs a lot more than the mail.

She also makes purchases through Ebay at different times and a number of items that she bought recently are sitting waiting to be delivered.

“Right now, I’m very alarmed because I have items being sent to me and they are just stuck somewhere in no man’s land,” said DeWilde.

Peggy Tedder Thompson said she mailed a Father’s Day gift, paid extra for next day delivery and now it’s sitting in a mail room.

John Law, finds himself in the same situation. He wants his $8 back from Canada Post because that’s why he paid extra to have his gift delivered to his father on time.

“They took that money with no problem, are they going to give it back to me with no problem? I’m paying extra for that guarantee,” said Law.

And just because there’s a mail strike, people are being reminded they still need to pay their utility bills on time.

Margaret Battista, vice-president of customer services for Niagara Peninsula Energy, said the company has taken steps to ensure both their customers and vendors will be looked after during the strike.

Billing and pre-authorized payments will continue on schedule. Every attempt is being made to ensure that bills are delivered to commercial properties. Collection action will be adjusted to account for no mail services.

Payments can be made a number of ways, including online banking, at financial institutions, by courier or dropping it off at their office at 7447 Pin Oak Dr. or 2676 Clifford St., in Smithville.

Customers can check their website at www.npei.ca for updates and information on how to sign up for electronic billing and payments.

tricciuto@nfreview.com

 

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Canada’s Next Top Young Philanthropist

Wes Needs your help.
He is a finalist in the running to be Canada’s Next Top Young Philanthropist, and if he wins, will receive $10,000 to assist him in continuing his work.
See… Wes believes that discrimination in any form is wrong. Watch the video clip on voteforwes.ca as he describes the UN Convention of the rights of A Child.
Kids, no matter where they were born, what their parents do, what their religion is, all have basic rights. Anything else is just not fair.
Please help Wes spread this message  by taking less than 2 minutes to vote for him as Canada’s Next Top Young Philanthropist.

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