The village of Fort Simpson has donated more than $26,000 to the NWT SPCA and is challenging other NWT communities to join them in contributing to the non-profit.
Coun. Troy Bellefontaine is spearheading the campaign to help the animal welfare organization during a tough year.
In 2019, Bellefontaine said the NWT SPCA spent $639,000 to shelter, feed and provide medical attention to NWT animals. What’s more, he said, is that the SPCA often flies animals in from the communities to Yellowknife to care for them.
Much of the money to cover those costs come from SPCA fundraisers, such as the annual gala. However, that event had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 public health restrictions.
“I just wanted to find a way to help them out,” Bellefontaine said.
Through the NWT Association of Communities, Bellefontaine sent letters to the 32 other communities in the territory to issue “a friendly challenge” to support the SPCA.
Of the 700 dogs at the shelter last year, Bellefontaine said only 52 were from Yellowknife. While he acknowledged Yellowknifers “might have deeper pockets… I feel we should be putting a little more,” he said, referring to the surrounding communities.
Just as the SPCA has had a difficult year, Bellefontaine said he understands 2020 has been challenging for many families and individuals.
“I don’t want to shame anyone or make them feel bad if they can’t contribute anything this time of year,” he said.
For communities that are able to join Fort Simpson, Bellefontaine points to community bingos and lemonade stands as some of the ways the village has been able to raise money. A portion of the $26,000 was also donated by the village council, local businesses and community members pitching in.
Bellefontaine said the idea struck him when he noticed a comment on the NWT SPCA’s Facebook page suggesting the impact it would have if each of the 21,000 Facebook users who “follow” the page donated just $5.
“From that I thought local communities might have more money than individuals, so maybe we could look into that,” he said.
Bellefontaine explained that his stepmother, a nurse, was very involved with animals in the community. When she moved away, he said people started coming to him with their pet questions instead.
“I’m not a nurse but I became the person that connected people with vet services and the SPCA. I’ve gotten to know them there and see the work they do. I guess I just see the need,” he said.
As the community letters were sent out only days ago, Bellefontaine said it’s too soon to say whether other communities have acted in kind.