Northern News Services
Friday, March 30, 2007
YELLOWKNIFE - It's not often a pile of packed snow is worth tens of thousands of dollars.
The Native Women's Association's snowy owl stands outside of City Hall during the Caribou Carnival snow-sculpting competition. The snow sculpture would go on to win first place in the competition, earning the association a diamond worth $11,620 from Diavik Diamond Mines/HRA Investments. - photo courtesy of Cindy Villeneuve
But that's exactly what members of the Native Women's Association of the NWT can say after winning the first Great Canadian Fundraising Amateur Snow Sculpting Contest at this year's Caribou Carnival, taking home a .75 carat diamond worth $11,620 from Diavik Diamond Mines/HRA Investments, and a truckload of smaller prizes from businesses around the city.
The group ran away with first prize after three days of hard work on a nearly two-metre-tall owl outside of City Hall.
"There was great teamwork," said team leader Leona Massan during a gathering at the group's downtown office.
She said the idea came from discussions at the recent Wise Woman awards, where members of the group decided to create a universal symbol of wisdom: Ookpik, the snowy owl.
Second place (and a $2,500 City of Yellowknife diamond) went to a group from French-language radio station Radio Taiga, as they created a huge gramophone out of snow, while Side Door Ministries took the people's choice award, and another $2,500 diamond form Embee Diamond Technologies
"Even if you did not get a prize, it was fun," said Radio Taiga director Alpha Sow. "It brought people together."
Yellowknife jeweller Francois "T-Bo" Thibault said he organized the event as a way for local non-profits to raise money and awareness in Yellowknife.
"As an overall picture, it was really cool," he said of how the event turned out.
"People are already asking, 'Are you gonna do this next year?'
Society executive director Denyse Nadon-Holder said T-Bo came to the society's offices in person to sell them on the idea of the competition.
"He sat down, looked at one of our sculptures and started to explain how we could do this," she said.
Of course, once the tools were in place, each group's team was what made the difference.
"If you have women as bright as we are, you're going to win," said outreach worker Vita Morin-Beaulieu with a laugh.
T-Bo also helped organize this year's prize for the Caribou Carnival's Quest for the Crown: a 1.01 carat Polar Bear diamond worth over $14,000, which was won by Julie Rogers for selling a 3725 tickets overall.
"He's the one that gathered everyone up and made Caribou Carnival happen," Rogers said of T-Bo, who also offered to complete gold settings for the pieces.
With a valuable diamond in their hands (or rather, in a safe at the bank), Nadon-Holder said the Native Women's Society of the NWT is still deciding what to do with the piece ñ how they want to set it, and how they want to give it away.
"We're definitely going to do some fundraising with it," she said, which will go towards their organization and their programs.
"If anyone else has any ideas out there on the best fundraising methods, give us a call."