Nov. 22 in Oak Bay came and went like many other fall Sundays.
It was a dreary day, mostly rainy, no sun, and a high of 6C. Not a particularly great day, even if there was no pandemic, and Oak Bay could have gathered for a fifth year anniversary to commemorate the Sno’uyutth welcome pole at Oak Bay High.
The annual celebrations are more than just a gathering, said Joe Blake, who is a lead on the Sno’uyutth’s Legacy Scholarship. They’re a reminder that the excess funds raised for the original cost of the welcome pole are now a scholarship that has helped support five graduating students.
The pole was designed by Songhees master-carver, Butch Dick (Yuxwelupten), and carved by his son, Clarence Dick (Wa’shk). The initial excess funds for the pole were $15,000. That’s when Blake, with the Community Association of Oak Bay, partnered with local CPA Rod Sim of Oak Bay Rotary to install a scholarship.
“We were working with the Songhees and recognized what we need to do is help kids,” Blake said. “I learned, we have kids in Oak Bay High from all over, such as Metis and Inuit, and not just local.”
With Oak Bay Rotary able to cut tax receipts for donations, the scholarship project grew to $25,000. Much of the cash came from the concerts that jazz vocalist Joe Coughlin helped put on, and performed in, at Oak Bay High’s Dave Dunnet Community Theatre.
And the fundraising is still on, though the latest concert, Sinatra and the Count, with musician Phil Dwyer leading an 18-piece band, is still in limbo since being postponed in the spring.
“We’re pretty ambitious about this scholarship,” Blake said. “The balance stands at $26,780. We want to get it to $100,000, so we can give more.”
So far, five Sno’uyutth scholars are at university. Four put their money into tuition at the University of Victoria and one went to Vancouver Island University. A sixth will be identified in June. The current grant is $1,500.
Meanwhile, Blake held a pandemic-long plant sale for the scholarship, and has raised $1,000.
To donate, visit oakbayrotaryfoundation.org.
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