WIIKWEMKOONG – Redrum Motorcycle Club has gifted this year’s proceeds from its annual Spirit Island Thunder Run to Ngwaagan Gamig Rainbow Lodge Recovery Centre in Wiikwemkoong, providing $2,200 in support of the centre’s healing lodge project.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we didn’t open our run to the public which we normally do,” said Robbie Shawana, president of Redrum Motorcycle Club’s Spirit Island chapter.
Redrum is an Indigenous benevolent motorcycle group that raises funds for community causes. Its local chapter has mainly supported the Good Food Box program in recent years, a non-profit that helps families obtain fresh foods that would otherwise be beyond their budget, but decided to support a new cause because of the current global environment
“We figured with the pandemic, it was most important to help people with their mental health. We’re finding that communities here are suffering from overdoses and some suicides as well, which has been affecting First Nation communities especially,” said Mr. Shawana.
This year’s Thunder Run would ordinarily not have raised as much money as in recent years because of the lower turnout.
Toronto-based Métis tattoo artist Toby Sicks, who runs Inkdigenous Tattoo Studio near Spadina and Dundas, decided to help the cause by raffling off a $500 tattoo. He is a former Redrum member and also created an Ojibwe thunderbird tattoo on Mr. Shawana’s arm.
“He’s the one who probably did a majority of the donation himself,” said Mr. Shawana.
Of the local chapter’s $2,200 donation, Mr. Sicks’ contributions totaled $1,345.
Ngwaagan Gamig executive director Rolanda Manitowabi said the gesture was fantastic.
“Any donations provided certainly will go to any programming and will be stretched as far as possible, so we really appreciate it,” she said.
The board of the centre has not yet decided how to use the funds but they will be reserved for client programming once the lodge launches.
Ngwaagan Gamig is presently building a healing lodge at its site in Wiikwemkoong and it is slated to open by March 2021. Although the centre is not actively fundraising, the centre’s president Lawrence Enosse said the organization was grateful for the surprise donation.
“On behalf of the Ngwaagan Gamig Recovery Centre Inc. staff and board members, I want to extend our appreciation and thanks to the Redrum Motorcycle Club Spirit Island Chapter for their considerable donation to our organization during these unprecedented times. We thank you for thinking of our organization as we continue to grow and this contribution will assist our community services,” he stated in an email to The Expositor.