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Bringing a bit of the North down south
Students create colourful T-shirts to send to Mexican children

Katherine Hudson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 10, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - It is an art project with heart.

NNSL photo/graphic

Weledeh students Delilah Turner, Caedyn Campbell and Jaydean Allen hold up the T-shirts they made for children in Mexico Tuesday. - Katherine Hudson/NNSL photo

Grade 7 and 8 students at Weledeh Catholic School are bringing T-shirts to life, brightly colouring parts of their culture onto the clothes which will be sent to Mexico.

Caedyn Campbell held her T-shirt proudly Tuesday, explaining the objects and colours of her design.

"I drew the northern lights and a canoe. It's to show them our culture and a picture of some of the things of our culture is something nice and it might mean something to them," she said.

Other shirts portrayed diamonds, dog teams, trees and inukshuks.

On Tuesday morning, Yellowknifer Barry Talbot visited a room of about 20 students to explain where their art projects are going. As photos of smiling children flashed through a PowerPoint presentation, Talbot said he will be personally delivering the T-shirts to Casa Hogar in Obregon, Mexico, a children's home in the community.

Monica Kreft, fine arts teacher, said she's pleased the students can participate in experience, allowing the students to share their culture.

"We asked them to make their Northern story," said Kreft. "I really based it on 'What is your culture? What are your values?' In a Catholic school we work with values of patience, forgiveness, trust. Take that, take living in the North and the art, design element and symbolism and put your Northern story on a T-shirt."

Kreft said the students also wrote a paragraph explaining their design to accompany the T-shirts. She said a good idea might be to send along blank T-shirts and markers to the children's home, for the children there to create their own designs that can be sent back to Yellowknife.

Talbot has been fundraising both through the Yellowknife Rotary Club and independently for the Wheelchair Foundation. He has been sending wheelchairs to Mexico since 2004 and has been helping out at Casa Hogar since 2009.

"The kids who go here, their parents are drug addicts, living on the street and can't take care of them.

The kids coming here are normally taken by the Mexican government and brought to Casa Hogar," said Talbot.

He said the children who stay at the facility range from the age of four to early 20s.

Talbot works with the Rotary Club in Mexico to distribute the wheelchairs. Since 2004, Talbot said about 2,000 wheelchairs through the Wheelchair Foundation.

The container of wheelchairs being shipped to Mexico this spring will be the seventh Talbot has helped organize. Container sizes hold either 110 or 260 wheelchairs.

"I've given wheelchairs to people who who have been laying in bed for 10 years and they can't move," said Talbot.

"We're giving them their freedom. It changes their life but it also changes the life of the family. This person has their independence."

He said to purchase a wheelchair, a person must fundraise $150. The wheelchair foundation covers the rest of the cost as well as the transportation of the wheelchairs.

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