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Unique fundraiser celebrates Indigenous peoples

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Lt(N) Kassandra O’Rourke (right) with their wife Eleni O’Rourke and their mother and father. (Photo submitted)

A naval officer has launched a unique fundraiser that educates participants from around the world about Canadian Indigenous issues, culture, and art.

Lt(N) Kassandra O’Rourke and their wife Eleni O’Rourke founded Tortoise Tasks last year through their charitable small business Kaskata Key.

Tortoise Tasks is an initiative they set up with a portion of the proceeds going to the National Defence Workplace Charitable Campaigns at CFB Esquimalt, Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre Pacific in Vancouver, and, hopefully, bases nation-wide as people can participate from any community. 

Once registered, participants select from 215 tasks – ranging from activities, adventures, and even quests, all with an Indigenous and environmental theme.  

“Tortoise Tasks can involve anything from adventure, learning, tranquility, or curiosity into Aboriginal culture and life,” says Lt(N) O’Rourke. “They can range from cleaning up a public park or beach, participating in a smudging ceremony, buying rechargeable batteries, or visiting a totem pole.” 

The 215 tasks were chosen to honour the number of children whose remains were discovered buried at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

Lt(N) O’Rourke’s mother is a member of the Skatin Nations. Their biological grandmother Leona August, whom they never knew, went to a residential school and died before the age of 20. The unfolding residential school tragedy has become a watershed moment in education and understanding about Indigenous people for many Canadians, they say.

“I have a lot of friends and co-workers who express their shame for not knowing more about our [Indigenous] histories and wanting to know how they could help when it came to Indigenous issues.”

Monies raised through Tortoise Tasks will support projects to establish clean drinking water on reserves, opportunities for Indigenous youth, and organizations that support people impacted by the trauma of residential schools. 

Cost to take part in the fundraiser are $10 for individuals or $25 for a group. Everyone will be entered into a draw for a Grand Prize vacation to Tigh Na Mara Resort & Spa to be drawn on 15 December. 

Kaskata Key has an additional fundraiser – an upcoming digital artwork collection called Turtle Island NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens). Digital artwork of Salish Coast artists will go up for sale later this year on their website with payment made with Non-Fungible Tokens, a new method of selling and exchanging digital artwork.  

For more information on how to get involved visit https://turtleislandnft.squarespace.com/tasks (discount code is: NDWCC). 

By: Peter Mallett, Staff Writer, The Lookout Newspaper