Monday, October 17, 2011

Aviva and the Angel of the Cassiar

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Aviva Community Fund for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Aviva Canada Inc. is running a contest for would-be community philanthropists. This is just the sort of thing that Irish Nellie would applaud - loudly. 

And who was Irish Nellie? An amazing Canadian woman, born in 1845 in Ireland, Ellen Cashman originally went to Boston with her family in 1860. She went west and ended up in British Columbia by the early 1870s. Nellie and her mother went there to be miners; as you can imagine, female miners were almost unheard of back then; she often dressed as a man both for comfort and to defend herself. She was, as you can imagine, tough and fearless. 

But Nellie was also very community-minded. She was in Victoria in the winter of 1873-4 when she heard that there was an outbreak of scurvy, and no supplies, up at a mining camp in the Cassiar Mountains in northern British Columbia. She rounded up 6 men for her party and started out. The conditions were very dangerous - snow, avalanches, and of course back in the 1870s, no highways. It took Nellie and her men 77 days to get there; but get there they did, and she saved at least 75 miners' lives. The miners called her the Angel of the Cassiar.

Cassiar Highway

While she was busy feeding Vitamin C to the scurvy sufferers in the wild, she also she helped raise money for St. Joseph's Hospital back in Victoria. By the late 1870s she was traveling in the US, though she returned to Canada to be a miner in the Klondike in the late 1890s. All her life she worked for her living - often as a miner, in various places -  but she always helped her community out, too. The Angel of the Cassiar helped fund hospitals, a Catholic church in Arizona, and a public school - the first one in Tombstone, Arizona. She died in 1925 in St. Joseph's Hospital in Victoria, the  first beneficiary of her good works in the community.

Why not emulate this amazing woman and do something great for your community - with a little help from Aviva? Aviva Canada Inc. one of Canada's largest insurance providers (home, auto, leisure and business) are once again hosting the Aviva Community Fund Contest. This is their third year of doing so and they are offering $1,000,000 to Canadians who inspire, support and lead community initiatives across Canada. Aviva has already given $1.5 million to 19 community groups since 2009. Send an idea to - then start telling the people you know from work or your neighborhood and get them involved, too. Aviva will pick the best ideas and if you have one of them, you'll get some of that $1,000,000 to help you start that community garden or school playground (three of last years' awards went to help schools build better playgrounds).

How do you get involved? Send your idea to Aviva - remember the deadline is November 30th, 2011. The winners are going to be the folks whose ideas get the most votes, so make sure you promote your idea on your blog or website, and through Twitter  - Follow @avivacf - and make sure to like Aviva Community Fund on Facebook. Your entry will be even stronger if you add some great photos and videos. In addition, get an insurance broker on board to help support your idea; this will make your entry stronger, too. And don't forget to check out the Aviva Facebook page to see all the ideas already submitted. You can vote for your favorites ideas there, too, also until November 30th.

This is such a great chance for anyone in Canada who wants to do something amazing in their community. And tell 'em Irish Nellie sent you!

[Source for Irish Nellie's biography: Wikipedia (link under her picture) and the wonderful Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.]

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