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Children paint rocks, raise funds to help Saugeen First Nation

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As it manages a major COVID-19 outbreak, Saugeen First Nation has received some help from a couple of youngsters who were cottaging in the area.

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Cohen George, 8, and his five-year-old sister Ella of Ancaster, Ont., raised $300 selling their painted rocks to help out the local First Nation.

The two young cottagers recently met with Saugeen First Nation Coun. Doran Ritchie, who accepted the donation and thanked them. The children also received gift bags of items from the band’s Environment Office.

In a video posted to the Saugeen First Nation website, Ritchie said he was contacted by the George family and told how the children had been moved by the COVID outbreak at the First Nation.

“The original plan was to raise awareness about COVID and give free painted rocks to their community,” Ritchie said. “Inadvertantly they turned around and they raised $300 for our community and so we wanted to shed some light on that that even the children are reaching out.”

Saugeen First Nation has been dealing with an outbreak since late June that has seen the number of confirmed cases of the virus in the community balloon from less than half a dozen to 123 as of Tuesday.

A state of emergency was declared June 30 and a number of measures have been put in place.

Isolation centres and a field hospital were established and the Red Cross was called in to assist, along with other organizations and volunteers. Vaccination and testing clinics were held, including a mobile vaccination, testing and risk assessment team that went door-to-door.

This week the outbreak has been showing signs of easing, but the state of emergency remains in place. In an update provided by the band on Tuesday it said 15 cases remained active. Two people were hospitalized and two deaths had been attributed to COVID-19. A total of 288 band members had been fully vaccinated and 79 had been partially vaccinated.

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Ritchie met with the George family to express the community’s appreciation and said what the George children did speaks to the donations and contributions the community has received from everybody.

“It certainly touches the heartstrings when you have children taking the initiative, a six- and an eight-year-old brother and sister reaching out and raising over $300 for our community,” Ritchie said, adding that the message the children wanted to promote was one of wellness, safety, vaccinations and to enjoy the summer.

In the video, Cohen said they knew the First Nation was having a big outbreak of COVID-19 and wanted to help.

“We needed to do a craft so we did cool rocks. We said they were free but every single person that came paid,” Cohen said, adding that the two children painted over 100 rocks.

Saugeen First Nation Coun. Doran Ritchie holds some of the rocks painted by Cohen, 8, and Ella, 5.
Saugeen First Nation Coun. Doran Ritchie holds some of the rocks painted by Cohen, 8, and Ella, 5. Photo by screen capture

Ritchie said the story of the children’s efforts made his day.

“There have been a lot of people donating that have been contributing and donating time, resources and finances,” said Ritchie. “But I think it always hits home when our children reach out and talk to us about the importance of safety and vaccinations.”

On Tuesday, the two children were also recognized by South Bruce Peninsula council for their contributions. They were presented with certificates and a gift from council.

On Tuesday, South Bruce Peninsula council also honoured Addison and Isabell Fuss from Sauble Beach. After receiving word that their neighbour had gone missing and didn’t come back for several hours, the two children went looking. They searched for two hours, found their neighbour and assisted in her safe return home. The children were unable to attend the council meeting, but are to be sent certificates and gifts.

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