Connecting to a cause: Robert Whitelaw and the Strength and Spirit Campaign

The goal of the Strength and Spirit campaign may have been to build strength and resilience in First Nations communities, but what it also uncovered was one man’s passion and commitment to the region he grew up in. Robert Whitelaw, better known as Bob, was a family man who put great emphasis on building strong relationships. This ultimately became his legacy and it was all prompted by the Canadian Red Cross Strength and Spirit Campaign.

It didn’t take much time for Robert to decide to commit a substantial donation to the campaign and the moment he did a spark was lit. Not only did his donation help fund two new satellite Red Cross offices in Kettle and Stony Point First Nation and Moose Cree First Nation, it also paved the way for programming that had not previously existed in either community. First aid, violence and abuse prevention, water safety and respect education (anti-bullying) programs are now offered at both locations and aim to empower residents through education.


Robert Whitelaw's family at the pow-wow in Kettle and Stony Point First Nation.

In celebration of Robert’s gift, and the success of the Strength and Spirit Campaign, members of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation recently hosted a spectacular pow wow. Beautiful and colourful regalia was worn by dancers and speeches from Bob’s wife, Rosalie Tennison, Chief Tom Bressette from Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, Chief Norm Hardisty from Moose Cree First Nation, and Sue Larkin, Red Cross director of philanthropy, touched on how the spirit of Bob’s gift has helped to inspire positive change.


One of many dancers who participated in the pow-wow.

Unfortunately, Bob was not at the ceremony. He passed away in the fall of 2014, but the legacy he has left will continue to impact generations to come. His story is one that echoes amongst many supporters of the Canadian Red Cross; all who stand behind the stories and programs that speak to the passion they have for helping others. If Bob’s story or any of the Red Cross programs, either local, national or international inspire you, visit to learn about how to get involved.

Meegwetch, Bob.
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