Parks Canada gives back
by Serafina Orcoyen and Svenja Hansen
Just as Parks Canada values its volunteers, the Agency understands the importance of giving back! Many events and programs in our communities depend heavily on volunteers and charitable giving for success. We are proud to be part of an agency that encourages giving, supports helping others and promotes community. Here are a few examples of how Parks Canada staff give back:
What do 14 turkeys, 100 pounds of potatoes, 15 bags of carrots, 3 massive trays of homemade stuffing, 2 huge pots of gravy, 4 schools, 250 children and teachers and over 30 volunteers add up to? A massive community holiday dinner and great use of a Volunteer Day for one Parks Canada employee!
On December 12, 2017, the Township of Manitouwadge, Best Start and Healthy Kids Community Challenge joined forces to host their first annual holiday dinner. All four schools in Manitouwadge—students, teachers and chaperons—gathered for a turkey dinner with all the fixings. Organising, preparing and executing something this scale would take lots of resources, especially since there isn’t kitchen access to prepare a meal this size at any one location in town. Turkeys would be cooked at households all over the community, calling for a divide and conquer strategy! The message “calling all volunteers” was sent. For this to be a success, many hands would be needed. Preparations began days in advance. The morning of the feast, volunteers, dressed in holiday sweaters and aprons, gathered at the community centre decorating and organising tables and cooking potatoes and carrots. One by one, volunteers began arriving with turkeys, trays of stuffing and pots of gravy. Buns, butter, drinks and cookies were placed on tables, buffet tables were anxiously prepared as we scrambled to complete all the details prior to the arrival of the guests of honour! One by one, children with rosy cheeks, kissed by the winter’s crisp air, lined up with smiles on their faces as we dished deliciousness onto their plates. The room was filled with happiness as our community’s children shared a meal. I felt privileged to be a part of this wonderful event.
Each year, Parks Canada employees are granted a day of paid leave to work as a volunteer for a charitable or community organization or activity.
Parks Canada is a contributor to the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC) managed by the United Way. The annual GCWCC takes place in federal workplaces across the country during September to December. Parks Canada locations in northern Ontario have been participating in the campaign for more than a decade. Staff organise bake sales, pizza lunches, 50/50 draws, auctions and all kinds of activities to raise funds, as well as, direct donations. In 2017, with approximately 5000 employees across Canada, the Agency raised more than $95,000 for charities through the GCWCC.
The Thunder Bay staff working in the Northern Ontario Field Unit office have come together with family members on a few occasions to cook dinner at Shelter House. The challenge of cooking for 100+ people can be daunting, but the staff at Shelter House do provide guidance on how much food is required and how to use their kitchen equipment. Seeing members of our community get out of the (hot or cold) elements in a safe environment, and enjoy a nourishing meal makes the effort very rewarding. It is also fun to hang out with friends and colleagues in a place that isn’t work!