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Fête du drapeau
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West Nipissing Remembers
by Isabel Mosseler
The West Nipissing Celebration of Survivors, formerly the Relay for Life, was a beautiful event of hope and compassion on the evening of June 9. The event was revived by a committee of stalwart volunteers, headed by Shirley Perrin - a survivor herself - who refused to let the Relay for Life slip away into the night. They re-fashioned the fundraiser, keeping the really good parts – the luminaries, the procession of survivors, and the honorary survivor – and adding some new elements like a barbecue and games for prizes. Even the indoor venue, the Sturgeon Falls arena, lent itself to the magic of the evening with the softly lit luminaries, once the lights went out.
The luminaries were set around the rink surface so that the 90 survivors were walking inside the circle. As well, luminaries were arranged at the west end of the arena to fashion the words ESPOIR and HOPE. The survivors were escorted for two laps by a Royal Canadian Legion colour guard and drummer. It was a moment of triumph for the survivors, and sadness for those who suffered and lost, as all those in attendance stood to honour them with an ovation.
Shirley Perrin, who took on the task of sustaining at least some form of commemoration, was pleased with the results. The Celebration of Survivors was conceived in response to a Canadian Cancer Society directive to discontinue the local Relay for Life. Perrin was told that in 2016, the Relay had raised $26,000 before expenses. The event on Friday evening raised an estimated $15,500 after expenses.
“That’s luminaries and donations,” she noted, “nothing from Relay, so we did really, really well.” She was also pleased with the response. Perrin was the honorary survivor at the 2016 Relay For Life, and took on the leadership role without a lot of people even knowing who she was. “Well, talking to the majority of the committee members and different people, I think it went exceptionally well. Considering that it was the first year, new ideas, we came out of there renewed and ready to continue next year, with some tweaks here and there.”
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