Field of Dreams project offers radical hope

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Pond surrounded by prairie grasses Bill Tanata via Flickr

Residents pool rebate for grasslands

SGI recently announced that there was a surplus in their profit for the year and, as a result of this, many SGI customers will be receiving a rebate cheque of approximately $285.00.

For many, like University of Regina professor Marc Spooner, this money is unexpected and unbudgeted for, which created a great opportunity to unite many people across Saskatchewan and use this money to create a lasting legacy on the province.

“I thought, ‘Wow! What possibilities this opens up if we act collectively; things that we can accomplish if we work together,’” said Spooner about hearing about the SGI rebate cheques.

Spooner had the idea to start a fundraiser that has the goal to “collectively pool our SGI rebates and other donations together to help acquire, protect, and preserve endangered grasslands by working with Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC),” states the canadahelps.org webpage.

There were many great ideas swirling around Spooner’s mind regarding how this money could be used, so he connected with others about what they would be passionate about working towards together. There are many amazing causes and ecosystems to support, but the grasslands really stood out to Spooner and others.

“It really hit home to me that grasslands are one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world […] we often think of other ecosystems, but actually there is one right in our own backyard here in Saskatchewan – and that’s the grasslands,” said Spooner.

As Canada is a treaty nation, it is very important that Indigenous people in Saskatchewan were consulted during the beginning of the project and continue to be consulted throughout the process.

“Whatever we do, especially when we’re talking about land, it has to be informed by Indigenous communities; and so, I checked on that too. NCC has developed an Indigenous framework, so I thought that was important and that’s on the web as well,” Spooner mentioned.

The NCC also has an Indigenous advocate who Spooner connected with regarding this project. The Indigenous advocate said that this was a good idea, which was the last sign Spooner needed to proceed with this great initiative.

This initiative got off the ground just a few weeks ago and has already raised over $14,000.00 and the SGI rebate checks have not yet been sent out, giving this project a great jump start.

The goal for this fundraiser is to raise $250,000 by June 30, 2021; a goal that Spooner thinks is ambitious but more than achievable.

“In the Facebook group we are already at more than 400 members. We’re working on a goal right now to get a thousand members in the group in 20 days,” Spooner explained. Since this interview, the Facebook group has gained many members, and as of March 21, 2021 the group has 656 members.

“Just as a rough estimate, a very rough estimate, not everyone in the group is going to donate same amount or donate at all – I understand that – so if we have a rough estimate of 1000 people gave their average rebate which is $285.00, that would be $285,000.00, so that would exceed the $250,000 goal,” Spooner explained.

With that, Spooner said that he encourages people to acknowledge that donating is not binary, and that people should donate their money to a cause that speaks to them as well. There are many important causes around the province that would greatly benefit from donations, and therefore people are encouraged to use their rebate cheque, if they are able, to donate to a variety of causes or one that they are truly passionate about supporting.

Spooner also mentions how charitable donations are a benefit to everyone as a $500.00 donation will only cost $280.00 because of the tax break, which is less than the average SGI rebate cheque.

The last year has been draining and isolating to say the least, and this initiative is uniting people across Saskatchewan and giving people hope.

“I think that we’re sort of filled with a general malaise, like from COVID and negative stories often, that it feels so good to be part of a feel-good story; and so I think that, one, we’re making a difference if we’re able – by saving a tract of grasslands, we’re making a difference for a lifetime and lifetimes to come. Generations later, people will appreciate that we did this,” said Spooner.

This project has brought many into the fundraising scene that otherwise would not have thought to do something like this. This project has inspired many to do good in their community.

“I hope that people who maybe had not considered collective action will remember the feelings from this action and take that forward to new things,” Spooner added passionately.

Spooner’s hopes are already coming true, as there are many comments on the canadahelps.org donation page; one being from Margot Gough, who said, “I won’t get a rebate, but this collective action is too exciting and important not to be part of.”

This initiative is about more than saving an ecosystem. It is about unity, passion, and community.

“Have the audacity of hope, daring to dream…radical hope can be one of the most powerful sorts of feelings, expressions, emotions that someone can hold, and it is one of the most defiant things when faced with adversity. If you can maintain radical hope, that is one of the most defiant, positive actions that someone can hold,” Spooner said.

To get involved in this powerful, uniting initiative – whether you are able to donate or not – Spooner encourages you to join the “Field of Dreams” Facebook page.

If you are able to donate, visit the donation page at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/field-of-dreams-saving-our-endangered-grasslands-w/?fbclid=IwAR343WuhRN8RaMtXIGGXJI6IMWfOrWY4s88J13YemKl6T3I_SoBGAN9LU4o.

Lastly, visit the website to learn more at saskfieldofdreams.ca.

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