01 September 2004
Operation Beaver celebrated its 40th anniversary on June 25, 2004. Operation Beaver is a part of Frontiers Foundation, a Canada-wide Aboriginal organization based in Toronto. Over the past 40 years, Operation Beaver has worked in the fields of construction, community development, education, and recreation.
Operation Beaver began 40 years ago with a single project, sponsored by the Canadian Council of Churches. A group of 22 young people from across Canada and around the world gathered in Split Lake, Manitoba, then a small fly-in aboriginal community. Over the course of the summer, they built a church, assisted by numerous local volunteers. Since those days, Operation Beaver has grown – it is now an independent, secular organization, working mostly on housing construction and renovation, and education projects. Over 3200 volunteers have participated in Operation Beaver projects, building over 2100 homes across Canada, and taking part in more than 100 education projects across the Northwest, Yukon, and Nunavut territories. Overseas, particularly in Haiti and Bolivia, much has been accomplished on a full range of sustainable development projects.
The celebrations on June 25 began with the Royal Bank Annual Breakfast, where Frontiers Foundation friends, supporters, and past volunteers were treated to a sumptuous spread of food, which included an array of traditional Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal foods. Charles Coffey, RBC Executive Vice-President in charge of Government and Community Affairs, spoke, giving a brief history of the colonization of Canada, followed by a commendation to Frontiers Foundation for the work it has done. He was followed by a number of past volunteers, who spoke about their experiences as “Beavers,” working in the field of construction, education, or recreation.
In the afternoon, the Beavers gathered at Amik Plaza, a year-old housing development in Toronto's east end. There, after a barbecue, nearly 30 or so past and present volunteers plus community representatives, were led in a workshop by John Vincett, a 1969 Beaver volunteer. From looking at the past goals of Operation Beaver, John led those gathered to consider possible future directions. The conclusions reached seemed to be that the present foci, of housing construction and education, are important and should continue to be priorities. As well, the group decided, in recognition of this 40th anniversary, to propose a special fundraising goal of $40,000.00, to be raised from past volunteers and friends.
Later that evening, a Gala Dinner was held at Burwash Hall, Victoria University (at the University of Toronto). Approximately 125 people attended, both past volunteers and present day supporters, to celebrate the achievements of the past 40 years. The evening opened with the Métis Fiddler Quartet, four young siblings who play traditional Métis fiddle music, accompanied this evening by their grandfather. After a delicious meal, Charles Catto, the Founding Director of Frontiers Foundation spoke, describing the beginnings of Operation Beaver, and a brief history of the past 40 years.
From: Marco A.Guzman, Executive Director