Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined area residents to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Crysler's Farm on Monday, November 11.
Members of the recently created Canada Day Committee met at the George Jowett Hall in Riverside Heights on August 30th.
Up for discussion was budget, evaluation of this year’s Canada Day celebration, and planning for next year’s celebration, including fundraising ventures.
This year’s Canada Day celebrations almost didn’t happen. Luckily for the community, this group decided to come together to save the day.
With a $200 starter donation from the Morrisburg and District Lions Club, the group began fundraising for the event with only a month and a half to the July 1st deadline.
With hard work and help from the community, including shop owners, the group was able to create a great day for everyone.
In order to move forward with next year’s plans, the group decided to sift through the events of 2011’s Canada Day festivities: what worked, what didn’t work, and what could be done differently for 2012.
Keith Robinson estimated that there were 3,500 to 4,000 people at this year’s Canada Day fireworks display. The turnout for all the events was phenomenal.
The agility games for dogs, the Bingo, the music, the barbecue – all the activities were reported to be successful and popular with the crowd.
What could have been done differently?
One member of the group reported hearing complaints of there not being rides for older children.
Linda Robinson addressed this concern pointing out that due to the late notice they were unable to secure the larger rides for 2011. The supplier had already committed the rides for another location on that day.
She went on to report that the 2012 Canada Day festivities will include rides for everyone.
Kim Casselman pointed out that many in the community felt the fireworks display to have been too short; they were good, but short.
This observation seemed unanimous and it was determined that the display should be at least 20 minutes long, which will of course increase the cost substantially.
Here enters the money talk. While the Canada Day event of this year did raise some money for next year, there is not enough to cover the costs for 2012’s proposed activities.
After a very fruitful discussion, it was decided that fundraising would begin this fall.
Working together as a community will, no doubt, guarantee the success of next year’s Canada Day celebrations.
“The services of the militia of Dundas County and sister counties deserve an honoured place in history, and in no better way can we cherish the memory of those fellows than by paying tribute to the spot on which they fought and bled for their country,” wrote J. Smyth Carter in 1905.
Bill Shearing referenced this quote during his proposal to South Dundas council on December 20th where he recommended that council erect four signs along County Road 2 recognizing specific historical events connected to the War of 1812.
“Our township has much forgotten history,” he said, “especially with the War of 1812.”
While council agreed with Shearing’s reasoning and historical documentation, they decided that Shearing needed to do more research into possible funding for the signs as well as options for sign construction and design.
Councillor Evonne Delegarde was very supportive. “I think that would be nice to have,” she said, reminding council that “it’s going to be a great year for tourism.”
“Chris was a volunteer right from his earliest years,” said his mother, Karen Marshall. “After he came back from his 2005-6 tour in Afghanistan with the Canadian Armed Forces, and joined the Edmonton Police Department, he remained determined to find ways to help others, to make the world a better place.”
Chris and his partner Shayna Campbell, a pharmacist, agreed to take a year away from their respective jobs in Canada and pay their way to Africa: ultimately, they decided to volunteer at St. Francis Health Care Services, established in 1998, in a congested Ugandan slum area near Mbiko.
Shayna and Chris have seen children playing happily with a soccer ball made out of plastic bags. They have become friends with kids like Hakim, a proud member of the Shadow Idols Club, run by St. Francis, one way for boys to avoid roving, violent youth gangs. They have fallen “in love with the omoanas, Lugandan for children, who are everywhere since Uganda’s population pyramid looks like an upside down T.” They have jogged with boys who have no shoes, but dream of “running for Uganda in the Olympics.”
On Christmas Day they joined the St. Francis staff for African food and dancing: Chris reported his lack of rhythm and Shayna won Ms Saint Francis!
“There are a million reasons to stay in Uganda,” Shayna Campbell said. “The people are polite, welcoming, warm-hearted and sincere. ”
A deep desire to help their adopted African community over the long term has led Chris and Shayna to try and turn the ‘empty shell’ of a maternity ward at St. Francis Health Care Services into a finished hospital able to save mothers and children.
St. Francis Health Care Services is (Chris and Shayna emphasize this) a grass roots organization, built and run “by Ugandans for Ugandans,” with little government funding, in the heart of Njeru.
It also lies at the heart of the highest HIV prevalence rates in all of Uganda.
Right now, under the leadership of Faustine Ngarambe, the centre serves 20,000 Ugandans, some treated with HIV medications, some orphaned by the AIDs pandemic, some hoping for education, some simply needing care in their last days.
“At St. Francis, they have realized that fighting HIV means more than medically treating the disease. The staff has initiated income generating groups, youth groups and other projects to reach out to the community.”
Keeping St. Francis a vital force in this poor community is a daunting task for its Ugandan founders. The needed maternity hospital was only partially completed before money ran out in 2010. Yet this hospital is the one project the director and his dedicated St. Francis staff most want to see completed: it will take at least $33,500 to do it.
Finishing the St. Francis maternity hospital has become Chris and Shayna’s goal.
“Women’s health, especially their reproductive health, is a major concern,” Shayna Campbell explained. “(Chris and I) are passionate about the subject since it is not just maternal health we are talking about. It is the livelihood of a people.”
To their great delight the young couple has recently received the news that, following their direct, personal appeal, the Stephen Lewis Foundation has agreed to be the physical sponsor of their efforts to finish the St. Francis maternity hospital. The Stephen Lewis Foundation is world renowned for its dedicated work in Africa, especially in the fight against AIDS.
With the Foundation’s support, every dollar raised in Canada will go directly to the maternity ward project. The Lewis Foundation will also issue charitable receipts in Canada.
Karen Marshall (543-4360), who is equally passionate about seeing the Ugandan hospital become a reality, is holding a special fund raiser/silent auction luncheon on Saturday, February 18, at noon, at St. James Anglican Church Hall in Morrisburg. Using a power point program and notes created by Chris and Shayna, she will talk about the project and discuss how people can help.
Shayna and Chris report that as of February 13, 2012, they have reached 47 percent of their $33,500 goal.
They invite people to log on to http://stephenlewisfoundation.akaraisin.com/fundraisingpages/maternityward to pledge and to see how the campaign is going.
“Uganda’s hopes and dreams are similar to the hopes and dreams of Canadians,” Shayna and Chris said. “It is important to invest in the mothers’ health to improve the lives of their children.”