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‘The least I could do’: Nova Scotians raise funds for Australian wildfire relief

‘We can do a lot if we really put our minds to it,’ says 11-year-old Paige Sampson

4 min read
caption Kalen Burt, Paige Sampson, Mary Xu, Amarah Tupper holding their koala art
Seyitan Moritiwon

Nova Scotians of all ages are donating toward wildlife rescue and recovery efforts for the ongoing Australian wildfire.

The wildfire started last year and has killed almost one billion animals.

Grade 5 and 6 students at John MacNeil Elementary in Dartmouth decided to create and sell koala art portraits, with the proceeds going toward Wildlife Warriors, an Australian zoo that protects injured or endangered wildlife animals.

Teacher Sarah Parker said when she showed the children the videos of the wildlife in Australia, they became emotional.

“It pulled at their heartstrings,” she said.

She said the kids used the koala portraits from Lauralee Chambers, an art teacher in New York, as a reference for their drawings. She said some of them took their own artistic spin to the project.

“My students really latched on to the idea that they can make a change,” she said.

Though the idea to make the art and sell the pictures came from their teachers, the kids were excited to sell their art to raise money.

“The goal was to instil a sense of what it feels like, how it feels to help others, and even as children, we can make positive impacts across the world,” Parker said.

caption Some of the fifth and sixth graders’ koala art.
Seyitan Moritiwon

One of the students, 11-year-old Paige Sampson, said she was excited to participate in the fundraiser.

“It felt good because as a kid you don’t feel or think you can do a lot of stuff,” Sampson said.

“We can do a lot if we really put our minds to it.”

Matthew Montgomery, another teacher, said taking part in the fundraiser will help the kids understand that compassion is a good trait to have.

“It’s important for them to do good things for other people,” he said.

Mary Xu, a student in Montgomery’s class, said she hopes their project inspires others around them to donate.

“If you can help them, you should,” said Xu, 11.

The students’ art garnered about $750 within four days of their class teacher’s Twitter post.

Alex MacAskill, owner of print and design boutique Midnight Oil, also raised money by selling some of his wildlife prints.

He announced it on his Instagram page on Jan. 5, and in about six hours, he was almost sold out.

“It started off and I just made 20 of the prints and I thought if I sell 20 of them, that’ll be great. I didn’t really expect that I would, though,” he said.

caption Alex MacAskill is the owner of Midnight Oil.
Seyitan Moritiwon

MacAskill had set a goal of $1,000 earlier, and he printed more based on the response. By selling his prints for $30 apiece, he was able to reach his set goal — and then some.

In about 24 hours, MacAskill ended up raising $1,020.

“It was a kind of spur of the moment thing, so it’s not like I had a huge plan,” he said.

He said his soft spot for animals and wildlife made it tough for him to do nothing when he saw what’s happening across the globe.

“I kind of figured it was the least I could do,” he said.

MacAskill has already donated the money to WIRES, a wildlife rescue organization in Australia.

‘We want to help in any way we can’

Kathleen Ferreira was one of the people who donated to the cause by buying a print from Midnight Oil.

She said her background in marine biology and her concerns about climate change moved her to want to help.

She said no matter how far away from Halifax the wildfires are happening, people should donate to the cause.

“Just because it’s not happening in my backyard, it’s still affecting someone and we should care about that,” said Ferreira.

Halifax Veterinary Hospital is also helping the cause by collecting knitted, crocheted and sewn products until Jan. 31 to donate to WIRES. They’re also accepting monetary donations.

Krystal Knowles, site co-ordinator for the Halifax Veterinary Hospital, said there’s a hub in Halifax that collects the items and sends them over to Australia.

“Over 500 million animals have died already, so we want to help in any way we can,” said Knowles.

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About the author

Seyitan Moritiwon

Seyitan is a journalism student at the University of King's College. She hung her lab coat after her degree in microbiology to start a career...

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  1. D

    David Moritiwon

    Gladdens my heart that these kids have risen to the occasion. Kudos to the author of this story. Keep firing on.
  2. P


    This is was a good read
  3. T

    Tomiwa Kupolokun

    Great stuff !!
  4. T

    Tari Ebiason

    It's definitely heart breaking what is happening in Australia right now. And it makes me glad that these children are aware of what is happening and are taking a step to help out in the little ways they can. The children really are the future. Well written piece Miss Seyitan.
  5. I

    Iyinoluwa Babarinde

    Good one!
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