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REPORTING · 3rd June 2013
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat City Council began on Tuesday, May 21st with a presentation from Patrick Witwicki, Executive Director from the Association of Francophones et Francophiles du Nord Oust.

“I’m pleased to announce that AFFNO will be bringing back the Winter Festival to the community of Kitimat in February 2014. As you remember, we initially stood before you back in October simply seeking support to bring back the festival which you gave and for that we thank you. That letter of support went a long way in convincing heritage Canada that bringing back this festival to Kitimat is important to the community,” said Witwicki.

AFFNO received word from Heritage Canada earlier in May telling them they have the support to bring back the festival. He was happy to announce it would be back in 2014, the first festival since 2010. It is proposed to take place from February 21st to 23rd. This is later than usual because AFFNO is holding other festivals in January.

Another reason AFFNO believe that French Heritage and Culture should be shared with everyone. Having it at this time gives the Haisla Nation a chance to participate because they are usually attending the All Nations Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert.

Finally, the third reason for this delay is to combine the sugar shack at the Onion Lake Ski Trails with the Winter Festival to save money on toffee on the snow while keeping their event on their original date.

He presented Council a proposed budget. The funding which they were given was minimal compared to what they received in 2010. This time, they only received $4000. He asked for cash or in-kind support from Council. He asked for financial and in-kind donation for $3,700 which would include the use of Riverlodge for the brunch.

They have also asked for funding from Service Canada to have someone from AFFNO working in Kitimat from October 1st up until they event. This would mean renting an office in town.

“Even if we don’t get a single penny from Service Canada, the Winterfest will still take place,” said Witwicki. He expressed in this case, they would rely on volunteers and hope the Community would ensure the support of this festival.

He wants to meet with the organizers of the Rail Jam to see if they would be willing to join the Winter Festival.

Witwicki explained if the two events are successful in merging, the Festival would begin on Friday with the Rail Jam, Saturday would have the Sugar Shack Luncheon, Saturday Night, there would be some form of entertainment and the mini Sugar Shack would take place on Sunday at the Onion Lake Ski Trails.

“AFFNO is truly excited at the prospect of returning the Winterfest to the community of Kitimat, we look forward to the entire community getting behind us, either as members or volunteers to make sure the event is once again a success, and we can build this festival back up to being the annual event that the people of Kitimat and the entire Northwest can enjoy and be proud of,” concluded Witwicki.

His request was put to staff for a report.