Audrey Wemigwans: The bingo’s the thing and never be afraid to ask for a good cause

WIKWEMIKONG—Debajehmujig’s Audrey (Audge) Wemigwans is having quite the week. Her son Johnny recently suffered the loss of a lower part of one of his legs following a snowmobile repair mishap, there is a funeral to prepare for and several of the people close to her are seriously ill—topping it all off was a recent tumble unloading supplies for a fundraiser from her trunk. “I am still a little wobbly,” she said laughing off the fall.

But the dynamic volunteer dynamo is busy fitting in visits to the hospitals in Sudbury and Little Current, stopping in to check on shut ins in the community and arranging fundraising bingos for the church and local families in need together with a busy schedule at the Creation Centre in Manitowaning.

“People are still gathering, so I guess I can take a minute,” she laughs, pausing to catch her breath before heading into a meeting.

Ms. Wemigwans credits her prowess at volunteer fundraising to her natural gift of the gab and a willingness to walk up to people and simply ask. “It’s my gift from God, I guess,” she said. “A lot of people have trouble selling tickets or going door to door to try and sell tickets for the church. I don’t.”

The spirit of volunteerism has always pervaded her family and her community, said Ms. Wemigwans. “My mom too,” she said. “She was always taking people in. Our family was one of the first to take in foster children. My brother Sunny (David Osawabine) and I grew up surrounded by children my parents had taken in.”

There was no differentiation between foster children and the natural born members of the family either. “I remember one Christmas, my two foster sisters and I had received the same Christmas presents, a scarf and mittens set and a wedding dolly. I asked my mother, ‘where is my extra present? I should get another present for being your real daughter.’ I got a little tap on the bottom for that one,” she laughed. “Everyone was treated the same in our home.”

Ms. Wemigwans often organizes and conducts fundraising bingos in the community for folks facing a medical emergency or for some other dire circumstance. In her day she was the epitome of the hockey mom, and she still throws herself into fundraising for youth. “I have a granddaughter in hockey now,” she laughs. Fundraising for the church is also an ongoing passion for her. “I remember back in the day, Catherine Trudeau, Phyllis Kinoshemeg and I would go house to house asking people for money for work on the church,” she said. “I have always been one for taking action.”

Today, Ms. Wemigwans finds herself wearing the other shoe following the snowmobile accident involving her son—the outpouring of community support has been little short of overwhelming.

“People have been fabulous,” she said. “I am receiving so much support. I know now that if anything should happen to me, people would be there for my boys.”

Perhaps, but be a little more careful unloading the trunk anyway, Audge. We like having you around.

mike@manitoulin.ca