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»» Te program behind the sponsorships, called the Big Wild Challenge, is the fund- raising brainchild of retailer Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) and enviro group Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). Canadians planning a wilderness trip can register with the challenge and can- vass friends and family, like they would for a Terry Fox Run, to raise money in support of conservation. In the summer of 2008, 50 challengers


raised $23,000, which was matched and further augmented by MEC. MEC’s board of directors doled out the money, which was then administered by TIDES, a national foundation that collects and manages dona- tions. Tis year the money will be spent on a handful of CPAWS campaigns aimed at pre- serving large landscapes—like the Peel River wilderness. “We’re looking for (conservation) cam-


paigns that have the best chances of prog- ress,” says Laurie Edward, manager of ad- vocacy, sponsorships and partnerships at MEC. (Te specific campaigns being funded with 2008 dollars were not known at press time.) In the future, she says, MEC will likely look to challengers to help decide what areas to put the money toward. So, what’s it like asking friends to spon- sor your vacation time? “It takes a certain


14 EARLY SUMMER 2009


amount of gumption,” says David Tomp- son, who led the Peel River trip’s sponsorship drive. “But you end up realizing that while it may be a bit awkward to ask for money, you are giving people an opportunity to support something that makes Canada so amazing— the wilderness.”


it takes a certain amount of gumption to ask friends to sponsor your vacation time


Tompson and pals used a promise to


match donations to score $6,050 in fund- raising to lead the 2008 challengers. Tey won $1,500 in MEC gift cards for their ef- forts. But more importantly, Tompson says, “It gave us a stronger connection to the river, a feeling that we had done something meaningful to honour its incredible beauty and unspoiled solitude.” “Tat’s what the challenge is all about,”


says Raphael Lopoukhine, the Big Wild Challenge coordinator. “We hope it creates a greater bridge between the person and the place.” —Ryan Stuart


Canoe Art


NOVA CRAFT IS MAKING THEIR CANOES THE CANVAS


THE MIDDLE-AGED MAN in high-waist- ed pants strolls down the aisle at the Toronto Outdoor Show in February and lingers at the Nova Craft Canoe display. “Well, isn’t that just the funkiest,” he


remarks to his wife. She responds, with a lesser funk factor, “I’d hate to go and scratch something like that.” The three canoes slowing the couple’s


trade show amble are the winning de- signs from a collaboration between Nova Craft Canoe and graphic design students from Fanshawe College in Lon- don, Ontario. Nova Craft asked students to design


canoes that were dynamic and colour- ful enough to attract younger people to the sport. Nova Craft marketing director Roch


Prévost declines to say how many of the special order composite canoes he ex- pects to sell, only that interest is strong. “Skis and skateboards have interesting


graphics, why not canoes?” asks Prévost. » IAN MERRINGER


PHOTO: PETER BOWERS


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