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Wake the Giant gets in-kind support for proposed Thunder Bay music festival

May 07, 2019 04:17PM ● By Editor
Wake the Giant organizers (left to right) Sean Spenrath, Greg Chomut and Angus Haapa speak to Thunder Bay city councillors on Monday night. Photo:  Jeff Walters/CBC

By Jeff Walters · CBC News · May 7, 2019

A proposed music festival to welcome Indigenous students to Thunder Bay, Ont., got a shot in the arm this week, as city council agreed, in principle, to donate $30,000 of in-kind services to the organizers.

Wake the Giant, a group born out of Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, wants to host a festival in September to help introduce new high school students to the city.

The other goal, said organizer Greg Chomut, is to show the city is a welcoming place.

"The idea of this music festival, and all other aspects of Wake the Giant, is to change that image, so we bring everybody in the community closer together," he said.

The donation from the city includes staging, as well as sound and lighting equipment. Chomut said if the city did not donate the equipment, it would need to be rented, which would make the event cost-prohibitive.

Coun. Brian Hamilton fully supported the project, but brought up how the city and council would be able to justify the in-kind donation, when other non-profit groups would pay to rent the same equipment.

Council and administration agreed this could be a concern going forward, and would have to work on messaging to explain why some community groups would have to pay, while others would not.

We're looking at changing the narrative- Wake the Giant organizer Angus Haapa

The organizers hope to draw thousands to the event, which they intend to run similarly to Bluesfest, said Sean Spenrath, another organizer. He said Wake the Giant had been in contact with the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium to see how large music festivals are run.

It's unknown if there will be alcohol available at the event, but passes will run at $50 for students, $60 for adults and $100 for VIP tickets, he said.

"There's a really bad perspective that's put in the media a lot, and we're looking at changing the narrative," said Angus Haapa, another Wake the Giant organizer.

He said the response to the group's request to put stickers in business windows, denoting a safe space in the city for Indigenous students was overwhelming.

"The idea behind Wake the Giant is to wake the hearts and minds of the city. We've lived here our whole life. There's a lot of great people here."

To read the original article and related reporting, follow this link to the CBC Thunder Bay website.


Jeff Walters


Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.

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