Jackets and Jeans gala showcases Islanders’ generous spirit and love of Manitoulin

The friends of Manitoulin Streams table offers a toast to this great organization during its Jackets and Jeans gala. photos by Seija Deschenes

LITTLE CURRENT—Manitoulin Streams fundraising gala ‘Jackets and Jeans’ saw a crowd of nearly 200 people turn out to the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre in Little Current and also turn out their pockets to generously assist the streams improvement organization.

People were impressed with the fact that the money they were spending on raffles, draws and auctions was all going to stay on Manitoulin Island for stream improvement all around the Island.

That was the motivation for Ray Beaudry to shell out $50 for a key that might, just might, unlock a padlock and win him a brand new 12 guage shotgun. Mr. Beaudry and 49 other people paid $50 for keys but it was Mr. Beaudry’ s key that opened the padlock and won him the shotgun.

Birthday boy Ray Beaudry shows off the 12 guage semi-automatic shotgun he won at the gala and is flanked by Deborah Ramakko.
Birthday boy Ray Beaudry shows off the 12 guage semi-automatic shotgun he won at the gala and is flanked by Deborah Ramakko.

“I’ve got a 16 guage but you need a 12 guage for duck hunting,” the excited Hydro One retiree and avid outdoorsman enthused. “And it’ s my birthday too!”

“We are so excited about how our first Jacket and Jeans Fundraising Gala went,” said Manitoulin Streams project manager Seija Deschenes. “We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and generosity of our participants and the funds raised far exceeded our expectation.”

“When we were discussing the theme, it was suggested that it be ‘of the Island, for the Island’,” Ms. Deschenes explained of the gala. We tried to highlight local businesses throughout Manitoulin Island and I cannot believe the generosity for this event. This tells us that they are invested in Manitoulin Island as well and I’d like to send a great big thank you and miigwech to all of them for their support.”

All funds that were donated Saturday stay on the Island and will go directly toward stream restoration efforts, which directly supports local businesses (construction companies, businesses supplying equipment and materials, nurseries, etc.) “and the indirect economic spinoffs from improving our streams will increase tourism, bringing business to the Island for fishing charters and outdoor recreational items, lodging and use of restaurants, shopping etc.”

“The funds will also go toward educating our youth during stream tours and presentations at schools across the Island, providing youth hunter education courses, youth trapping courses so that students will get out onto the land and into nature and spend less time on their digital devices,” Ms. Deschenes explained. “It will also allow us to provide information to our communities about invasive species and to tourists visiting our Island so that they don’t transfer invasive species to this unique region.”

“Our board of directors and staff worked very hard on this event and a special thank you goes out to Brian Ramakko, owner of Ramakko’s Source for Adventure, who has a farm in Spring Bay, for spearheading this event,” the project manager continued. “He is very passionate about the sustainability of our resources for future generations. “

Manitoulin Streams co-emcees Brian Ramakko, board member, and John Diebolt, supporter, take a bid during the live auction.
Manitoulin Streams co-emcees Brian Ramakko, board member, and John Diebolt, supporter, take a bid during the live auction.

Master of ceremonies John Diebolt did an amazing job, having participants laughing throughout the night and keeping the event going until nearly 11 pm, encouraging people to open and re-open their wallets.

There were many valuable and unique prizes on offer through raffles, a silent auction and, the star-point of the evening, the live auction that saw many a bidding war. The biggest take of the night was a coyote hunt and howl package guided by retired conservation officer Ian Anderson which includes a stay at Mr. Ramakko’s farmhouse. This gem was sold to the highest bidder, The Expositor’s own Dave Patterson, for $2,000. Mr. Patterson beamed following his win, sharing that the package will be a gift for his brother who loves coyote hunting. A salmon fishing charter through Neil Debassige’s Island Sunrise Charters, including four tickets to the Manitoulin Expositor Salmon Classic, also went to a high bidder at $1,600.

Following the success of the inaugural event, Ms. Deschenes said she and the board are looking forward to hosting another Jacket and Jeans fundraising gala next year.