Students from a school on an isolated northern Alberta reserve raised money through bake sales and a snowmobile raffle so they could take part in the Olympic torch relay when it passes through Dawson Creek, B.C., on Jan. 31.
The students at John Baptiste Sewepagham School in Fox Lake also sold candygrams and held a community trivia night to help raise the $8,000 they needed for the trip to Dawson Creek. The school is only one of 20 in Canada selected to take part in the relay.
"I was really, really happy," Grade 9 student Catherine Winter said of the moment she learned the fundraising goal had been reached.
Fox Lake sits just outside Wood Buffalo National Park, about 800 kilometres north of Edmonton. To take part in the relay, the students needed to cover the cost of buses, two nights in a hotel and meals.
Nineteen students will make the trip to Dawson Creek, a drive of about seven hours.
Boost from newspaper story
The students started raising money in September. They were able to raise $4,000 within the community by Christmas. More donations poured in after a story was published in the Edmonton Journal in late December. Now that they've reached their $8,000 goal, they can also buy running shoes and a souvenir torch.
Teacher Tylene Neary sent in an application to get the students in the torch run once she learned there would be a chance for school teams to take part.
"I just think it's a fantastic experience and something that these kids and the community will remember for the rest of their lives," she said.
In the proposal, Neary highlighted traditional aspects of the Cree community and the school, as well as some of the extracurricular programs the school offers to promote physical fitness.
Another staff member put together a video slide show of photos set to the traditional aboriginal drumming of the Fox Lake Drummers.
The students are thrilled by the opportunity, Winter said.
"It will be such an honour and … it will be really amazing."