On December 3, 2020, Santa took time out of his very busy schedule to fly to the northern communities of the Athabasca region in Saskatchewan. Transwest Air and West Wind Aviation provided the transportation for Santa, which made it possible for him to visit the communities of Fond Du Lac, Stony Rapids, Black Lake, and Wollaston Lake. It was a momentous occasion as this was Santa’s 20th year working with Transwest Air to make his annual visit, which has now become an anticipated event for all the communities.
This project was initiated by Transwest Air 20 years ago as a way to give back to the communities that support the airline, knowing that not everyone receives the same opportunities when it comes to Christmas. Transwest Air worked closely with each of the schools and daycares in the communities to ensure every child from newborn to Grade 12 was included and received a special package from Santa. Backpacks with gifts and treats were loaded up in labelled boxes for each community, separated by age group, and loaded onto a designated aircraft. Nearly 1400 children received a present from Santa, so you can imagine how full the aircraft was with toys and gifts!
The pandemic restrictions in the Northern communities did create some obstacles but the organizers were optimistic that the project could move ahead with special precautions. Santa was unfortunately not able to personally visit each child as in previous years, but he did make sure each child received a special gift bag containing an age-appropriate gift, a book, an orange, and a candy cane. The gifts were all purchased by Transwest Air staff and were carefully selected to promote education, arts, and physical activity.
Santa arrived with his team of elves to each base to drop off his deliveries, which were later distributed to all the children by each school and daycare. Some teachers even went above and beyond to personally deliver the gifts to each student’s home, emphasizing how important it is for each child to feel special and experience the joy of Christmas. In past years, the organizers, along with Santa and his elves, were able to attend the schools’ Christmas concerts and take part in their Christmas prog rams which included a visit with Santa. It is anticipated that Santa will be able to personally show up and take part in the festivities again in December 2021!
This project could not have been delivered to this level of success without the sponsors who generously donated, and the team is grateful for the many partners who came on board this year to help provide gifts to the children of the Athabasca region. Along with West Wind Aviation and Transwest Air who provided transportation and administration of the program, Athabasca Basin Development provided the books, and Cameco, Orano, the Northern Store, SSR Mining, and Northern Lights Community Development Corporation sponsored the backpacks, toys, and treats for all the children. This is the xth year that the Northern Lights Community Development Corporation has been involved in this special initiative.
The team looks forward to and truly enjoys planning this event every year. Although this year had its challenges, the organizers worked effortlessly to adjust to the pandemic and make this magical event a reality once again for the children of the Athabasca region!