The Barnacle team will be away at sea for the month of July, check back in August for our next print issue!

The Strayboar Project: From Lunenburg to Ukraine



Often times when we read the newspaper we learn about problems which are seemingly far away and out of reach. Then there are moments which make you realize that it’s not only our sweet town which is a small community, but our world as a whole.

A virus in China is suddenly at your doorstep, the melting ice caps are effecting your shoreline, and you’re learning to say cheers in Ukranian at the Grand Banker with a man who lost his brother on the front lines last week.

While these topics are undeniably heavy in nature, there are stories of light, where the human spirit prevails, which shine through. The Strayboar Project is one of those.

You may have seen its name connected with the recent show that Canadian comedy legend Ron James gave at the Lunenburg Opera House. In fact, Ron James plans to fly to Poland with a couple of local boys soon in support of this project. He will be travelling with former Canadian army members, Seth and Royce, who started Strayboar.

This will be the second time the veteran buddies will hop on a plane and start knocking door to door at refugee camps asking what people really need to recover, finding ways to offer impacted civilians support and aid directly from Lunenburg. No convoluted charity structure which lends questions as to why board members are getting bonuses while the refugees go hungry.

Through direct support they made great connections, such as with Canadian school teacher Oksana, who has been travelling to the Ukraine teaching on her summer vacations for years before the conflict even began with Russia. Now, she finds herself the custodian of 150 children who were at her summer camp who’s parents never came back from the front lines.

Fellow veteran of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, Scott, recently biked across Newfoundland from Port-au-Basque to St.John’s in ten days to support Strayboar’s orphanage work. Together with the comedy show they were able to raise $16,000 to directly send to Oksana. That’s enough to provide a year of food, and more, for these children.

The orphanage uses physical fitness, skiing, and art therapy to help the kids heal. Interestingly, Strayboar has a separate section of their efforts working to set up an art space for veterans with PTSD in Lunenburg county on the basis that art heals; they will eventually be offering pottery, painting and woodworking therapy.

Seth first came to connect with art when his parents ran Black Duck Gallery in Lunenburg, his father working with pottery, his mother a kite-maker. Scott, likewise, vouches for the healing power of physical fitness, having began his post-conflict healing journey at a PTSD surf therapy workshop which is held at Whitepoint biannually. If you meet him he will emphatically tell you that “biking, quite literally, saved my life,” when transitioning back to civilian life after Iraq.

Among many heartbreaking stories, turned inspirational, that these truly wonderful humans will share with you should you have the pleasure of chatting with them in Lunenburg, is that of their friend Brandon.

Brandon trained and lived in New Brunswick and has a first aid background. When he saw the conflict breaking out on the news he sold everything he owned, left his dog with his mom, and flew to Berlin. He bought a decommissioned ambulance and Seth and Royce helped him gain permission to drive to the front lines and start aiding wounded civilians and soldiers.

He shared with his Lunenburg friends that he was travelling between field hospitals where doctors were performing every manner of procedure, as complicated as brain surgery, using nothing but headlamps. Strayboar rallied and helped him raise money for three generators to fully power three different medical centres.

At one point, while evacuating civilians from a village, Brandon drove over a land mine. He suffered brain trauma himself. Two weeks later he was back on his feet, replaced his destroyed ambulance with a truck with the seats ripped out to make room for stretchers, and just. kept. going.

It is truly inspirational what these kind souls have done to help fellow humans put in a situation that anyone could find themselves in with an unfortunate turn of events. The efforts continue and any members of the community who would like to support in their own way are welcome to reach out through www.strayboar.ca.


Comments

One response to “The Strayboar Project: From Lunenburg to Ukraine”

  1. Gale Fullerton

    Wow. That is all. Thank you so much for sharing this inspirational story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *