Annual Wiikwemkoong Telethon returns and triples goal to a whopping $15,500

Marilyn Roy brought her strong voice and guitar stylings to grace the stage and launch this year’s edition of the Wiikwemkoong Annual Christmas Telethon.

WIIKWEMKOONG—It has been a couple of years since residents of Wiikwemkoong could gather in person for their annual telethon celebration of music and stories, but the event rebounded this past weekend to raise a whopping $15,500 towards the

Wiikwemkoong Elder’s Home Capital Campaign. The theme of this year’s telethon was Maanjiinwin, “Expressing your spirit.”

“Thank you to everyone who donated online and in-person during this year’s telethon,” said Kerry Assiniwe, who co-hosted the event with Wiikwemkoong Ogimaa-kwe Rachel Manitowabi.

“It is a huge part of our community,” said Ogimaa-kwe Manitowabi, noting that she anticipates becoming a resident herself later in life. “We are very happy to be part of this.” She urged people to make generous donations and set a challenge to her friends and colleagues, chiefs across Manitoulin and beyond to match her donation of $100.

The start of the telethon included a short video presentation with former ogimaa Duke Peltier and fundraising chair Walter Manitowabi among other community leaders who outlined the challenges of the current nursing home facility. Wiikwemkoong Nursing Home has been approved for a significant boost in beds, but to get to the point of putting shovels in the ground will require a herculean effort to raise the millions needed.

“The entire volunteer team is overwhelmed by the generous contributions of every single person.” The telethon team had a special shout-out to M’Chigeeng First Nation, whose $10,000 contribution assisted in significantly overshooting the already ambitious $5,000 telethon goal.

“A huge thank you goes out to all the performers of the telethon who helped make the event such a fun and festive success,” said Ms. Assiniwe. “We couldn’t have done it without you. You are all truly talented and we are proud of you.”

While the $15,500 is a respectable accomplishment, it isn’t the end of the story as money is still coming in to add to the tally.

“I am being a good girl and waiting for Santa,” said Ogimaa-kwe Manitowabi in her opening remarks. She noted that the past few weeks she has been kept very busy criss-crossing Anishinaabe territory. “I am getting educated and learning a lot on the run. I am happy to report there are a lot of things going on. The future is bright with all of the work being done. It’s hustling and bustling.”

The first performers were two young Wiikwemkoong kwe appropriately named Rhapsody and Melody, who were joined onstage by their father Jason Manitowabi, who was volunteering behind the sound boards at the event. Joining Mr. Manitowabi at the sound table were long-time Debaj stalwart and oft-time magician Ashely Manitowabi and Lyndsay Manitowabi.