Leslie Spence, who received the DAREarts Leadership Award from his sponsor Rick Patina seven years ago, is receiving the inaugural Patina Prize this Thursday, April 24th at the 12th DAREarts Leadership Awards Gala.
His DAREarts story begins in Webequie First Nation, a remote community 1,000 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ontario. He was a participant in a pilot program called the First Roots Aboriginal Program, which was launched in 2007. The documentary, “Fill My Hollow Bones,” shows Leslie as a very young, very shy young man who stepped up to play a part in the play, “Agidamo and Genna.”
Leslie was part of a new trend in Webequie. The graduating rate started rising after DAREarts’ first visit and Noront Resources’ support. When he graduated, he made plans to pursue nursing with the goal of returning to and serving his community.
However, after applying for pre-health science at Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education and Training Institute for a medical career in nursing he was told that the program was cut due to a lack of applicants. He was given two choices: programs in personal support work in their institution or general arts and science at Confederation College. He chose the latter.
He moved to Thunder Bay and found the College setting daunting, but he eventually grew accustomed to it. He began to flourish. Then his grandmother fell ill with heart problems and a month later, his beloved uncle, a respected Elder in the community suddenly passed on as his grandmother continued to fight for her life. He couldn’t keep up with his school work and, suffering from depression, dropped out of college.
Due to family commitments and extenuating circumstances, he became the sole caregiver for his recovering grandmother. He still wants to continue his education. He is looking for a way to help his family, community and himself heal and flourish through his culture, the stories, and the hidden lessons that lie there. He wants to make his grandparents proud.
DAREarts, through the Patina Prize, is proving that once again, individuals like Leslie can rely on support long after they’ve gone through the DAREarts program. Success is based on how well you live your life, and by putting others before himself, Leslie is showing by example the kind of legacy that Rick Patina has left us all. This prize will make the world of difference for Leslie.
The Patina Prize will provide a legacy for Richard Patina, long-term Chairman of the DAREarts Board of Directors, as DAREarts continues building as a national charity, reaching over 13,000 children yearly with the power of the arts to transform lives. Mr. Patina was also CEO of Lombard Canada Ltd., on the board of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, and on the Board of Governors for Shaw Festival.
Yearly, $4,000 of the Prize will be divided equally to empower children directly through DAREarts programs in four regions of Canada: Nova Scotia; Rexdale, Ontario; Nishnawbe Aski First Nations in remote northern Ontario; and British Columbia. The final $1,000 of the Patina Prize will be awarded annually to one DAREarts graduate youth who has demonstrated particular need of these funds to further their post-secondary education. The family will work with the DAREarts President to make this choice. This first Patina Prize will be presented by Rick’s wife, Judy Patina, and their two children, Derek and Melanie, at the DAREarts Leadership Awards gala, held in Toronto on Thursday, April 24th, 6:30 pm at the Kool Haus, 132 Queen’s Quay.
Marilyn Field, DAREarts Founder: “The Patina Prize will help us all gain from the strength of our memories of a man who took action to make a difference, and will DARE us all to do the same.”