Brooke Johnson, left, Cadence Manson, Luke Robinson and Wendy Beaton pose with a van donated by Harris Mazda to Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

Donated van will benefit Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre youths

Harris Mazda donates van to centre

Youths at Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre can continue going on field trips and doing community work thanks to a vehicle donation from a Nanaimo car dealership.

A specially adorned white Dodge caravan was donated by Harris Mazda to the centre and according to Wendy Beaton, a NAC Tsawalk Learning Centre teacher, it is much needed.

“I think the big reason why the van is helpful for us is that a lot of our students are living across the city,” said Beaton. “We don’t have a catchment where they only live near the learning centre … so our students often travel from all over and we also are really connected in communities, so a lot of the times our youth are volunteering at different places or needing to get to appointments and different things, so our youth are out and about quite a bit and this way, staff can support them in all the work that they’re doing out in the community as well.”

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The donation came about as a result of a partnership between Harris Mazda and the Garrett Paquette Fund for Families, according to Sarah Pachkowsky, who helped organize the 2018 Paquette fund Movember event and NAC project director.

“The Garrett Paquette Fund for Families always sits down around the table and looks for local initiatives every year around the time of November in regards to the fundraiser and this year, I was able to bring forward the fact that Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, their lease was ending on their … van and they were looking to be able to raise the funds to be able to keep the van or get another van to be able to move the youth around,” said Pachkowsky.

Pachkowsky said they reached out to Tony Harris, Harris Mazda managing partner, and they came together to provide the van. The Garrett Paquette Fund for Families provided $10,000, she said.

Harris said he was pleased to offer assistance and first heard about the need last fall.

“We started having the discussions, understanding the need and that they were requiring a replacement to their current vehicle, so we worked with the [Paquette fund] and found a way to make this happen,” Harris said. “We added the decals as per their design requirements and sourced a van that was suitable and the right colour and everything they were looking for.”

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