By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
To memorialize the passing of the youngest member of their family, Gabriel, Gerry Bakoway has organized a craft fair at Parkside Manor on April 15 to raise money for children’s charities across Alberta.
“So it starts at 1 o’clock and we have done it in the past, but we just didn’t advertise it, it was mainly for family,” said Bakoway. “It’s 1 to 4 (p.m.) and it’s a craft fair so a lot of people are going to be bringing in the crafts, and then we’re going to be selling them. Then whatever proceeds go to the Gabriel’s Legacy Foundation. We will be serving lunch as long as it lasts and that is $7. Craft tables will be $25. Gabriel’s birthday is March 31, and we normally celebrate on March 31, but with weather and we’re going to have people travelling from out of town we figured we move it ahead two weeks and hopefully the weather will be a little bit better. It’s basically a birthday celebration as well as a craft fair, and then any proceeds go to the Gabriel’s Legacy.”
After this introduction Bakoway listed some of the different charities and organizations that money raised from the Gabriel’s Legacy Foundation goes to.
“We go and we help other children out. We’ve helped out the Ronald McDonald House in Calgary, the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, Stollery (Children’s Hospital) in Edmonton, a couple hospitals in BC. We’ve also done the bag lunch program in Calgary, we have the Lethbridge Hospital with their children’s fund. We’ve done Toys for Tots, Safe Haven (Women’s Shelter) we support them, food bank we support them. There’s quite a few foundations we’ve already been supporting, and this one (craft fair) it’s to generate a little bit more money for what we do. In total we probably raise not tremendous amounts, probably about $6000 that went out to different charities around southern Alberta.”
Barkoway then went in to detail of what people could expect at the craft fair, as well as discussing the financial aspect.
“I think it’s going to be a variety of just about everything. Most of them are going to be handmade goods obviously. Wood craft, some native stuff, my sister is making blankets — needing them I believe it’s all going to be a variety of everything. The $25 for the table will go into Gabriel’s Legacy Foundation, and anything they (the craft seller) makes they keep unless they want to donate something, that’s up to them. Basically they pay for the table and then whatever they sell is theirs.”
Following this discussion of the craft fair itself he also went into detail about the events that led to its genesis.
“So Gabriel died in 2021 and we’ve been doing it ever since then. We did one at Christmas, we do one on his birthday, and so we just want to keep this going, and we’re also going to try and get social services to change the manner that they work with children. Gabriel was in and he was forced back to his parents who had every red flag that you could imagine — violence, drugs, alcohol. He didn’t last six weeks there, and they’ve charged the parents with manslaughter right now, but we’re hoping and we’re going to be talking to Crown prosecutors on March 24. Trying to convince them — and they’re not hard to convince that there should be murder charges.”
Bakoway also touched on how this is not an isolated incident.
“That’s what started it all. Going into social services and not coming out alive. There was 49 children that year that Gabriel died in Alberta alone that died under protective services. We’re going to try and stop that. Some of this money as well as helping children possibly we could use it to go after social services. Set up meetings with them and change their mandates. The big thing was we can’t let little Gabriel’s death be in vain – he was with us for 17 and half months so virtually all of his life here, and they decided that he should go back to his parents. It was the most outrageous thing I’ve ever heard.”
If interested in securing a table, you can contact Bakoway at firstname.lastname@example.org.