Mazinaajim Children’s Foundation board members and a group of children at the March 21 announcement of the upcoming Mazinaajim Children’s Foundation Dare to Dream Day fundraiser on April 29 in Thunder Bay.

By Rick Garrick

THUNDER BAY—Children from Thunder Bay and region are invited to dress up like a superhero or princess to help others at the April 29 Mazinaajim Children’s Foundation Dare to Dream Day fundraiser.

The fundraiser was created to help raise funds for Indigenous children and youth in the District of Thunder Bay who are seeking education, recreation, cultural, and leadership opportunities.

“It’s just helping kids that fall through the cracks,” says Todd Genno, a youth board member with Mazinaajim Children’s Foundation and Pic River citizen. “Not every family can afford to put their kid in hockey, so this is where the foundation helps out [by] picking up the slack.”

Children aged 12 and under are invited to participate in the inaugural Dare to Dream Day, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Victoria Inn in Thunder Bay. The fundraiser includes a variety of activities, including: Abra Kadabra Hair Salon, Magic Make-up Corner, Sparkle and Shine Never Land Nails, Imagination Photo Booth, Creative Kid Craft Corner, Disney Dance-a-thon, and Bibbity Bobbity Candy Buffet. A family lunch will also be provided. Tickets are available online for $25 or at the Victoria Inn front desk.

“This is going to provide the highly needed funds for Indigenous children and youth in the region,” says Tana-Leigh Harty, president of the Mazinaajim Children’s Foundation board. “Anyone who wants to buy a ticket can show up and participate in a kid-friendly event. The focus of the event is for parents to be able to spend some quality time with their kids while enjoying a fun-filled event. These kids get to spend three hours with their idol, their super hero, their favourite Disney princess. They can laugh, play, photo booth. There’s going to be a royal ball, face painting, crafts, you name it. The kids are just there to celebrate kids being kids.”

The Mazinaajim Children’s Foundation was established in 2009 by Dilico Anishinabek Family Care to support the educational, recreational, leadership and cultural needs of Indigenous children in northwestern Ontario. The foundation is affiliated with 13 First Nation communities, including Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, Fort William, Long Lake #58, Michipicoten, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, Pays Plat, Pic Mobert, and Red Rock Indian Band.

“This event is going to bring a whole host of children together, but we’re also going to be able to show the City of Thunder Bay and the region that we have a foundation like this that people can give to,” says Yolanda Wanakamik, a Mazinaajim Children’s Foundation board member. “People are constantly asking: ‘What can we do to help and support’. Well, this is definitely one of those places that they can help to do that.”

The Mazinaajim Children’s Foundation is involved with more than 6,000 children and families who face many social and economic challenges.

“We just hope the community comes out to sponsor this great event and help the kids,” says Janice MacDonald, a Mazinaajim Children’s Foundation board member.

The presenting sponsor for the inaugural Dare to Dream Day event is Architecture49 Inc.

“I want to be able to give back to the communities, to give back where it is needed most and appreciated most,” says Tony Alfonso, director of operations and business development with Architecture49 Inc. “I’m hoping that my participation will help forge that and continue to grow that with the communities and the children.”