Derek Armstrong of Sault Ste. Marie is reaching out to the youth of Attawapiskat through a cause that he says, “touched my heart,” after hearing about the high suicide rate currently going on in the First Nation.
As he was getting his local fundraiser started on the GoFundMe campaign his colleagues Scott Ward, Dakota House and Shy-Anne Hovorka were on board right away.
“I really feel that the program that these people can bring up to the youth is more than money can buy,” Armstrong said.
“They need someone up there to mentor them… then the councillors can do their job.”
The artists are donating their time.
First on the list is Dakota House, a Cree Actor – born in Manning, Alberta and Dakota grew up in an inner-city neighborhood in Edmonton. Best known for his role as Tee Vee Tenia on the CBC Series North of 60, Dakota has starred in numerous feature films and made numerous guest star appearances in shows such as Heartland and the X- Files. A father of 4 with over a decade of sobriety and his background in Martial Arts, Dakota prides himself on being a strong role model for youth. For over two decades he has devoted much of his time to educating youth on motivation, self- esteem and making positive choices. He has travelled across Canada extensively, bringing hope and inspiration to youth through keynote presentations, youth conferences and other special events.
Joining Dakota is Scott Ward, born in Selkirk, Manitoba and is of Ojibway/Métis background. In addition to bringing laughter and entertainment to communities, organizations and schools, Scott is well known for his work with Dakota House and is heavily immersed in working with youth and was a past recipient of an Alberta Aboriginal Youth Role Model Award , an Alberta Business Award of Distinction (Youth Entrepreneur), as well as being a 2015 recipient of the Native American 40 under 40 award. Scott Ward now travels extensively across North America as a full-time Comedy Hypnotist and Motivational Speaker.
Both Dakota and Scott are involved with Going M.I.L.E.S:
Going M.I.L.E.S is a leadership initiative, created for the sole purpose of fostering a positive environment for Indigenous youth to grow and interact with today’s top Indigenous talent, through the medium of the arts. With Indigenous peoples being one of the fastest demographics growing today, a change is needed to lead a more healthy lifestyle with the chance of positive expression, which is at a all time low.
With professional positive role models Going Miles is a program developed to ensure our youth get to experience the potential they have in themselves to create and believe in seeing their thoughts and ideas come to life.
In Addition we have Shy-Anne Hovorka from the Thunder Bay area. Shy-Anne is an award-winning songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, humanitarian and performer, whose first three albums have sold copies around the world. Shy-Anne is also a highly respected motivational speaker whose presentations have inspired thousands of Canadians. Shy-Anne enjoys involving youth with music every chance she has.
“We just want to go in there and spend time with the youth,” said Armstrong.
He has been reaching out to Southern Ontario and local unions to help support the cause.
Our funding campaign is not about raising funds for the community. It’s about raising funds to cover costs for this group to get there, for flights, meals and accommodations while there. These artists are donating their time to mentor and entertain these youth on more than just a fun level. They all have experience working with youth, guiding them, developing goals and self appreciation. It is more than any amount of money can bring the children.
The group is going up for a 3-5 day trip and the reason for the $30,000 they’re looking for is the costly expenses of just getting to Attawapiskat. The funds are primarily for flights, accommodations and organizing expenses for members attending this event. “And even though we don’t plan for the luxury side of value, booking, distance and timing all come into play for what we have to pay. ”
“We’re so excited to get up there and the sooner the better,” said Armstrong.
“I’m getting so many positive comments already,” in this only, week-old campaign.
Armstrong wanted to note that he will be transparent and open with the accounting of the fundraiser as it progresses. Anyone needing to contact him through the GoFundMe page can do so if there are any worries. People can donate anonymously too if they like.