By McGill Reporter Staff
Umbrellas became parasols Tuesday as more than 50 McGillians joined the Montreal Centraide campaign’s annual March of 1,000 Umbrellas downtown as October picked up from September in the sunshine department.
Led by Principal Suzanne Fortier and Marty the Martlet, the McGill contingent pumped their mostly red and white umbrellas to various drum beats and music as the march snaked along McGill College Ave. and Ste. Catherine St. Groups from dozens of major corporations and small community organizations turned the downtown streets into multicoloured rivers of people.
Also at the forefront of the McGill group were McGill Centraide Campaign co-chairs Michael Di Grappa, Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance); Peter Todd, Dean of the Desautels Faculty of Management; and Kevin Whittaker, President of the MUNACA union that represents support staff. Brian Farnan, SSMU Vice-President (Internal Affairs) is also a co-chair. Ron Critchley, President of the McGill Universtiy Non-Academic Staff Association helped lead the McGill parade as well.
A few beefy members of the McGill Redmen football team also made a notable physical presence in the McGill crowd.
“What a great day!” said Di Grappa as he surveyed the crowd. “I’m really happy to see so many people out here to support an important cause. McGill has long been a major supporter of Centraide in Montreal and I’m very happy to see the tradition continuing in such an enthusiastic fashion.”
At the end of the event, the Montreal Centraide organization announced its overall goal of $58.5 million for this year’s campaign. Last year, $58.2 was raised to support 369 agencies in and around Montreal that provide assistance to about half a million people, who could be isolated seniors, families in need of food or other necessities, students in danger of dropping out of school and immigrants needing a hand to get settled in a new country.
McGill’s own campaign target will be revealed in the next few days as the Campaign Committee comes together to plan a series of fundraising events and develop the annual approach to donors, who can make their contributions through payroll deductions.
“Centraide makes a very important contribution to our society,” Fortier said. “I am very happy to see how much McGill contributes to this effort and I know that again this year we will be there for all who do so much to help the less-fortunate among us. I want to thank our campaign co-chairs and all the others who work so hard to make our own Centraide campaign a success.”
Whittaker said he was pleased to join the Centraide campaign leadership this year. “It’s great to see so many of our McGill community out to support this event,” he said. “There are a lot of people in Montreal, including some at McGill, who need help from time to time from our community groups and this is an important way to provide some of that help. We have to remember that many people, here and elsewhere, have significant needs when it comes to getting by on a daily basis.”
McGill Centraide campaign organizers understand that times continue to be difficult and that a large number of McGill employees, from senior administrators on down, have taken pay cuts or freezes in an effort to help McGill meet its budget-cutting target, Todd said. “But what’s important to remember is that we don’t need a few individuals to make a huge financial contribution to this campaign, we need a lot of people to make small donations. Working together, we can do a lot of good.”