Wiky Christmas Telethon celebrates 25-year milestone

WIKWEMIKONG—The Wikwemikong Christmas Telethon, organized by Wiky TV5 and the Wikwemikong Development Commission (WDC), celebrated its 25th year this past Saturday at the Wikwemikong High School, raising over $2,500 in pledges.

The all-star lineup this year included master of ceremonies Lukas Jacko and Mitch Manitowabi and local performers the Robbie Shawana Band, Brian Fox, Leslie Neshkiwe, Theresa Osawamick, Dave Southwood, Paquas Trudeau, Everit Morrisson, Brian Simon, Faith Desmoulin, Rennie Mishibinijima, Miranda Jacko, Joey Osawabine, Katrina Debassige, Shirley Peltier, Moriah Shawana, Blair and Aaron Peltier, Jason Manitowabi and Brendan Peltier.

From the amazing performances, beautiful decorations and countless volunteers manning the phones, it was an afternoon fitting the telethon’s 25th anniversary.

In between the hustle and bustle, organizer Gordie Odjig of Wiky TV5 sat down with The Expositor to reflect on how the telethon originated and how it has grown over the past 25 years.

“It’s so crazy to think that it is has been 25 years,” began Mr. Odjig, showing off his new shirt that the WDC presented him with at the beginning of the day in honour of his dedication to the telethon and being its producer for 25 years. “It feels like it was just yesterday. It has been a lot of work throughout the years, but it has been worth it.”

Mr. Odjig explained that the Christmas telethon originally started in 1989, organized by the Wikwemikong Heritage Organization (WHO) and Wiky TV5.

“We started it as a fundraiser for the TV station and something to show on the channel. We also wanted to promote local talent,” Mr. Odjig told The Expositor. “As it grew over the years, it became a 50/50 fundraiser for Wiky TV5 and local charities like the elders’ program and the family centre. Today, the event is organized by us (Wiky TV5) and the WDC and is a fundraiser for student bursaries.”

The dedicated producer explained that over the years there have been over 5,000 performers on the telethon, “of all ages. From the very young to elders.”

“Even Crystal Shawanda (Wikwemikong-born country music star) got her start on the show singing when she was only four-years old,” Mr. Odjig added. “It is a great, family filled event and I am so happy that we have reached this impressive milestone.”

Over the last five years, the telethon has been streamed live online, making it available around the world.

If you missed this year’s Wikwemikong Christmas Telethon, you can view it online at www.wiky.net.

 Robin Burridge