Diavik Diamond Mines presented a cheque for $50,900 to the Lights On program on Dec. 4 to help support the popular program in the coming years.
“We came very close to having to turn the lights out,” Carolyn Carroll, the principal of Princess Alexandra (PA) School – one of the host schools for Lights On – told a group of middle school students.
When federal funding for programs like Lights On ran out earlier this year, it looked like the initiative might have to close its doors.
However, Russell Chase, a Hay Riverite and the supervisor of electrical projects for Diavik, came through with a truckload of waste copper donated from the mine – valued at about $50,000.
The only catch was that the copper had to be processed before it could be sold, and according to Chase, the community of Hay River came out in support and started stripping copper.
“It was a really easy decision for me,” he told a group of 30 Lights On kids in the library at PA School on the morning of Dec. 4. “This is a very good program. Have fun with it.”
Not only did individuals, including high school students who benefit from Lights On programming Friday and Saturday nights, help strip down the copper, many local businesses added their weight to the project either through in-kind donations or supportive services. In the end, the amount raised from selling the processed copper in Edmonton came to nearly $51,000.
“We’re always happy to help when we see an employee taking ownership and initiative,” said Corey McLachlan, Diavik’s superintendent of government and external relations, down from Yellowknife for the presentation. “Anytime that Diavik can help support and benefit communities, we want to do that. But this just goes to show it doesn’t go anywhere if the copper shows up in Hay River and nothing happened from there.”
Lights On provides youth in the community a place to go, both Friday and Saturday nights at Diamond Jenness Secondary School and Saturday nights at PA. The new influx of money will be used to fund activities including sports and games, and ensure students have access to healthy snacks. It will also go to pay many of the supervisors who dedicate their weekend evenings to making sure kids have a safe and fun place to be.
“Kids have adults they can go to and that carries over into the classroom,” said Carroll.
While Lights On organizers and participants were keen to thank Diavik and Chase for their generous gift, one dedicated volunteer added the students to the list of those deserving of appreciation.
“I am so proud of you all for coming out on Saturday nights,” Tara Boudreau, vice principal at PA and a Lights On regular, said to the assembled students. “You guys make it really rewarding for a teacher to come out on Friday and Saturday nights, and you make it all worth it.”