Volunteerism makes the world go round, says Linda Erskine

LITTLE CURRENT—This year is Linda Erskine’s last year on the Manitoulin Legal Clinic board, where she’s been a volunteer for the past 20 years, eight of which as president. This is just one of Ms. Erskine’s many volunteer roles throughout her years on Manitoulin.

“I really think that legal clinics are very important,” Ms. Erskine reflects. “So many people who don’t ‘fit the bill’ should be able to afford a lawyer. I think everyone should have the same right to legal counsel.”

Ms. Erskine also currently serves on the board of the Weengushk International Film Festival, a position she finds a lot of fun. For this year’s festival, viewers can look forward to a theme of women in film, she says.

Many people will know Ms. Erskine as a mainstay of St. Bernard’s Catholic Church, too. She currently serves as music coordinator, a position she held alongside dear friend Sally Marshall, who passed away suddenly last week. Over the years she’s also been the church’s altar server trainer and held classes for first communion, confirmation and for couples wishing to get married in the faith.

A talent with a needle and thread, Ms. Erskine is also a member of the executive of Current Quilts and Stitchery. (There won’t be a quilt show this Haweater Weekend, but there will be one next year. She’s chair of the quilt show committee.)

The avid volunteer also gives of her time to partisan politics, too.

Seven years ago, Ms. Erskine became an enthusiastic member of the Manitoulin Refuge Committee, which homed Eritrean families across Manitoulin. She recalled one of the youngest of the refugees, Matuda, racing across the Sudbury Airport tarmac in the dead of winter in only a sundress and flipflops. Matuda had learned her name—one of the only English words she knew—and called out ‘Linda! Linda!’ as she raced toward Ms. Erskine and her new life in Canada. This is one of Ms. Erskine’s most meaningful volunteer roles.

When the Erskine brood was younger, Ms. Erskine found herself heavily involved in the Little Current-Howland Minor Hockey Association, serving as president, among many other duties. “I found myself still involved when my kids stopped playing hockey!” she laughs.

And while she was doing all that, Ms. Erskine found time to be a member of the Little Current Lions Club as well.

And it doesn’t end there. She’s also been a board member for Manitoulin Family Resources and a Northern Ontario regional councillor for TVO in previous years and a volunteer driver for both Manitoulin Country Fest and Rocking the Rock. Oh, and she’s known to whip up trays of cookies and deliver them to seniors at Christmastime, too.

“I’ve done a lot of volunteer work,” she recalls. “But you have to volunteer; if you don’t, things just don’t get done!”

Ms. Erskine says she began volunteering at around the age of 12 as a child in Cobalt and no matter where she’s lived over the years, she’s always found ways to lend a hand. “No matter what the community, you give back,” is her mantra.

“I do really like to volunteer; I like to be part of the community,” she adds.

“Imagine, if everyone just volunteered one hour of their time once a week the things that we can do.”