A new fundraising arm of the Canada D’Eh! committee is up and running and determined to make next year’s celebration a great one; including fireworks.
Committee chair Jeanette Smith said she received numerous offers of help for the committee after a lost funding grant resulted in no fireworks in Chatham for Canada Day this year.
“The Canada D’Eh! celebrations are organized by a committee of volunteers who work year-round on planning,” Smith said. “This committee is not affiliated with the municipality or any other organization; all members are simply dedicated and community-minded citizens. We receive no automatic funding from any level of government. It takes the community, local businesses, cultural groups, volunteers and local leaders to make this free event a reality.”
Smith was hospitalized twice in the last 18 months and was diagnosed with a chronic condition that limits her day-to-day activities. Several Chatham residents have stepped up with offers to help, including Rachael Laidler, Tina Dekievit and Mary Beth Corcoran, who have organized the Canada D’Eh! fundraising auction Facebook page. The auction will run with at least 20 items each month donated by Chatham businesses and citizens, until next year. Pick up and drop off of items will be at The Chatham Voice office at 84 Dover St.
“We already have some fantastic items donated thanks to the generosity of local businesses and artisans, and the preview is on our Canada D’Eh! auction page,” Dekievit said. “We are really hoping the community will rally around this, and those that were upset about the lack of fireworks will help us do something about it and make 2016 the best year yet.”
Laidler said the committee has already received some excellent suggestions from the community for fundraising ideas, and plans for next year’s celebration as well as additional fundraisers over the next year are already underway.
“I volunteered because I am a firm believer that you can either be a part of the problem or a part of the solution, and the only way to be a part of the solution is to help out,” Laidler explained. “I am hoping next year is one of the best years so far. The more money we raise, the better the free family activity becomes. The possibilities are endless.”
In September, Smith said there will be a planning meeting to discuss 2016 and plans for Canada 150 in 2017, and she hopes people will bring forward their ideas to discuss.
Despite reports that next year’s fireworks will be paid for by London businessman and Ribfest organizer Doug Hillier, Smith said she was hoping that the details and a firm commitment would be discussed in September when planning ramps up.
Smith has been a part of the Canada D’Eh! committee for 10 years, and chair for the past four years.
“Jeanette and her committee, as unpaid volunteers, have done a great job, and this past year, her health has been an issue,” Corcoran said. “Should things have been done differently? Probably, but the criticism isn’t helping. The people who have stepped up to support her and re-ignite our civic and national pride with great ideas are helping, and those are the people we want to hear from.”
Smith said the committee is always looking for input on fun family activities people would like to see included in the celebrations. Creative ideas can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. To check out the auction items ready for Aug. 1, go to the Canada D’Eh! Facebook page, facebook.com/canadadeh and follow the links to the auction group. The GoFundMe page is also still up and donations total about $200 so far. Scribendi will match the funds raised from the page for next year’s celebrations, Smith added.