By Jaymie White
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
PORT AUX BASQUES — Cory LeRiche, Vice-Chair of Sou’Wes Newfoundland Delta Waterfowl, has been recognized for his significant contributions to the hunting community as the recipient of this year’s Delta Waterfowl Canadian Volunteer of the Year award. LeRiche, who is mainly in charge of fundraising for Sou’Wes Delta, started the group back in 2016 alongside Mark Lomond and a few other friends.
“With so many anti-hunting issues that have been coming up in recent years, it seems like a lot of people are against hunters and are losing the tradition. We never thought it would grow to what it is now, not in a million years. We just started it as a small group of friends that could get together and discuss some issues that we were having locally pertaining to waterfowl, to hunting. We checked with DU (Ducks Unlimited), and we checked with Delta, and we liked Delta’s platform better, so here we are.”
LeRiche said the group, unlike some other fundraising groups that depend purely on fundraising, have actually flourished during COVID, in part because of their strong online presence.
“We still have our dinner and auction which is the 27th of August for this year, and normally that would be our only real fundraiser for the year, but this year we’ve branched out with a lot of raffles and a lot of online auctions, which has helped us in a lot of ways.”
The group has also made significant donations over the past year.
“We’ve put 60 kids through their hunter’s education course in the last year and a half. That’s a huge one. We have 120 nesting structures set out. We’ve made a big donation to the Salvation Army’s toy drive this year. We’ve donated about 130 pounds of turkey to the Salvation Army this year, and we have a scholarship at the high school that’s been in place since we started back in 2016 that we give out every year.”
The group also had their major garbage cleanup this year, about four cleanups around town in total, with associated costs offset by funding from the provincial government.
Up until then, all the money for the cleanups came out of pocket.
They’ve also placed baskets along beaches in Port Aux Basques and Burgeo to encourage beach-goers to pick up any garbage they may find.
“We saw them on Facebook, and we liked the idea, so we put them out in Port Aux Basques. Then we got a request from Burgeo to set them out there, so we did them out there too. It’s been a really busy couple of years.”
LeRiche said participation in raffles is still extremely impressive and helpful because raffles and fundraising is what supplies the money for them to be able to do what they do.
“At the beginning I was selling out raffles in 10 minutes. Three thousand dollars in tickets would be gone in 10 minutes. It’s slowed down a bit since then. Instead of selling out in 10 minutes it takes me two or three days, but it’s still absolutely great.”
LeRiche, who knew he was nominated and was one of the front runners to win the award, found out a few weeks ago that he won.
“I was nominated by my Regional Director. He’s the Regional Director for Atlantic Canada. He was the one who gives out the nomination for this award, and he nominated me this year,” said LeRiche. “It signifies, to me, acceptance and appreciation for what we’re doing for the local area and also in a national light. I was happy I won. It’s nice to be appreciated like that.”
LeRiche said he loves what he does with the organization.
“I would never be able to do it if I didn’t enjoy it the way I enjoy it because I’ve given up so many hours. It’s unbelievable, but it’s the love of doing it and the love of sharing what you’re doing that really pushes you.”
LeRiche said his favourite part is working with the youth.
“I love when you get in there. These kids are young, they’re fresh, and they’re willing to learn. You can see it in their eyes. We get in there and we start to handle the firearms, stuff like that, and within minutes you can see them start to grow,” said LeRiche. “From there we take them out on hunts as well. Not everyone goes for the hunting part, but we had three youth out for Waterfowl Heritage Day. These kids had never fired off a gun before in their life and all of a sudden they are out in the blind with us, shooting ducks, and they’re doing all the shooting. We don’t shoot anything, and it’s absolutely amazing. The memories that makes is better than any award I could be given.”