THUNDER BAY - The city of Thunder Bay has officially joined more than 200 other businesses and organizations in committing to make city spaces welcoming and safe for Indigenous youth.
On Monday, two large Wake the Giant decals on the windows of Thunder Bay City Hall were unveiled and Mayor Bill Mauro said it speaks to the city’s ongoing commitment to reconciliation.
"This is just a continuation of a lot of the good work the city has been doing and we are really proud to partner with the people that have come up with this idea,” Mauro said. “A really good community-driven piece.”
Wake the Giant was launched earlier this spring and was started by students and staff at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School. As a cultural awareness project, the initiative is meant to identify safe, welcoming, and inclusive spaces for Indigenous youth in the city for school.
Since its launch, more than 250 businesses and organizations have joined the initiative, which can be identified by Wake the Giant decals.
“It’s exciting to see something that was at such a grassroots level grow so quickly,” said A.J. Haapa, one of the project leads for Wake the Giant. “It really spread like wildfire. Originally we had hoped to have about 100 businesses on board and now we are flirting with 250. We are ecstatic to see the city of Thunder Bay get behind the initiative.”
Mauro agrees that the growth of Wake the Giant has been terrific and he hopes to see it continue in the weeks and months ahead.
“So much credit goes to the community and the partnerships and Dennis Franklin Cromarty School and the teachers and the staff who came up with the idea,” Mauro said. “There is no cost to this initiative. It is a community initiative, not a city of Thunder Bay initiative, which really speaks to the community buying in and understanding the importance of this.”
Haapa said there has been a dark cloud over the city for at least the last decade and the Wake the Giant initiative serves as a kind of rallying point for the community.
“There’s a lot of great people in the city and this is something to rally behind,” he said. “That was part of the idea from the get-go – to highlight some of the positive things going on here and the great people.”
With businesses and organizations displaying the decal, youth will know it is a safe space where they are welcomed.
“The whole thrust of the initiative is to break down these barriers and bring our community together,” Haapa said. “I think we are seeing it slowly but surely.”
“This is the biggest decal there is yet. I think that speaks to the city wanting to be fully behind this thing.”