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Niagara Falls
Friday, March 31, 2023
After successful 2022, Friends of Fort George looking forward to new season
From left: Summer student Patrick Smith, Fort George manager Dan Laroche, Friends of Fort George executive director Amanda Gamble, Trillium Foundation grant volunteer Mike Britton, Friends of Fort George board of director Dick Coyne, MPP Wayne Gates and Parks Canada employee Scott Finlay. Somer Slobodian

Thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Friends of Fort George were able to employ three students at the Queenston Heights Brock Monument in 2022. 

The Friends received a $47,100 Community Building Fund grant from the foundation, which covered all three students’ salaries.

“Normally we have to top up or it only pays a certain percentage,” Amanda Gamble, executive director of the Friends of Fort George, told The Lake Report at a funding announcement at Navy Hall. 

The grant helped the Friends “after two years of not being able to charge for school tours or for climbing the monument,” said Gamble. 

Before COVID-19, the organization employed 15 to 20 students to work at both Fort George and Brock’s Monument. In 2020 that number dropped to four and in 2021 it rose  to six. 

Eleven students were hired in 2022, with three working at Brock’s Monument thanks to the grant from the foundation. 

With the Trillium grant, the monument was able to reopen seven days a week and resume school trips. About 2,000 kids were able to visit with their schools. 

“We also welcomed over 16,000 visitors, both local and international, to the site throughout the season,” said Dick Coyne, a member of Friends’ board of directors.

Patrick Smith is one of the three students who were employed at the monument last summer. He’s a recent graduate from Brock University, where he studied history. 

“I think last summer, probably my favourite part was when we had the re-enactment (of the Battle of Queenston Heights),” said Smith. 

It was his second year working there and he enjoyed educating visitors on the importance of the monument.

As a history student, working at Brock’s Monument was the perfect job, he said.

MPP Wayne Gates emphasized the need to create jobs for young adults.

“The important part is getting young people employed and bringing back tourism,” Gates told the crowd at Navy Hall. 

Last year, the Trillium Foundation gave 2,000 organizations more than $100 million in grants. 

“We look at the needs of the organization, because we want to make sure that they survive after COVID, (and) we look at who they’re supporting,” said Mike Britton from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. 

For the coming season, Gamble said the organization has applied to the Young Canada Works Grant, since the one they received last year was related to COVID-19. 

“We’ve applied for four positions, so we’ll see how many we get,” she said. 

Gamble is also excited about some new programs that are in the works. 

“Hiring students who work at Fort George and Brock’s Monument is something we’re incredibly proud of,” she said.

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