Beautiful side effects

Gabriela Hirt doesn’t think of herself as a “super volunteer” for Pull Together. Her support of the campaign started small, with an online fundraiser. After some pretty big donations came in from local and international family, she knew she was onto something and decided to go the next step.

Hirt’s musical night at a church in Victoria raised over $14,000 (after every gift was doubled by our matching donor) and helped make some powerful new connections in the community.

“The St. Barnabas event was all about bringing people together. The hall was bursting, with people sitting on the floor and sharing seats. I was so happy that there were many First Nations performers, and a great audience to hear them. It was an amazing feeling of all of us together, rooting for the same cause.”

Beyond musical entertainment, there was profound learning and sharing about FN culture and communities. With speakers, musicians, poets and great food & drink, the event was sold out.

Hirt continues, “The indigenous performers were quite touched by how many people came out to the show. They were touched and surprised by all the support, not only financial support but that there were so many people who wanted to learn about First Nations culture.”

The organizers also auctioned off 3 originals by local artists Patricia Vickers, Claire Grant & Walter Riedel. Nathan Cullen, MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley,  ended up walking out with the Vickers piece.

St. Barnabas Church were extremely supportive of the event, and the campaign. “It was very much a team effort with people from the congregation working with locals from Oak Bay & Fairfield working flat out to make this a great event,” says Gabriela.

The church even purpose-built a stage for the event, with one of the parishioners working for several days to construct what will hopefully become a regular venue for community concerts.

When asked why she stepped up to support Pull Together, Hirt says, “I really love the idea: I think it’s such  a great campaign. When I read about it, I knew right away I wanted to get involved. It’s positive, it’s about getting people together.”

She describes the community that was built through cooperation in fundraising and pulling together supporters and friends for a common purpose. “Coming up to the event, so many people talked with me, I really felt it was making a difference not just raising the money but getting the word out about support First Nations need, and the way forward to beat Enbridge.”

“What I really enjoyed personally, was reaching out to First Nations, and learning more about the history and the talent that’s out there. I felt like I made a lot of connections because of Pull Together.”

What would she say to other organizers who are wondering whether they can make a difference? “Even if you organize something: it doesn’t have to be that big, or time consuming: even on a smaller level, you have that beautiful side effect that you get in touch with groups you have not been connected to before an you learn all these new things.”

Hirt shares a moment that moved her to tears. Connecting with the Songhees First Nation, she received this message from carver and elder Clarence Butch Dick: “Thank you for your efforts to bring to the peoples attention the plight of our brothers and sisters of the north.”

“That’s what campaigns like this can do,” affirms Gabriela. “We’re pulling together on all sorts of levels that you wouldn’t expect.”

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