Rescue Friends Christmas Market creates a space for Calgarians to support local
By Mackenzie Mason, Arts Editor
COVID-19 has been hard on Calgary’s local businesses, and now more than ever, Calgarians need to be supporting local. The Rescue Friends Remembrance Day event and Christmas market was an opportunity for Calgarians, and their pets, to do just that.
Rescue Friends Animal Foundation is an animal rescue organization focused on creating a world where animals can live the best life possible — starting with Calgary and the surrounding area.
The foundation puts on fundraising events all year long in order to support their initiative, but due to COVID-19, many of their events got cancelled and in March, they had to stop their animal rescue efforts completely.
“Normally on Remembrance Day, [Rescue Friends] and Calgary Superleagues Ball Hockey put on a ball hockey tournament. The fees from that tournament are donated to our organization and we have an auction that runs with that event. But because of the COVID-19 restrictions this year, we weren’t able to host it,” says Katie Shannon, Rescue Friends’ president.
“So we asked Visions Sports Centre if we could use the space and repurpose it as we were also shopping for a venue for our Christmas market, so they were very gracious to donate the space to us.”
The Rescue Friends Christmas Market was able to celebrate its second annual event on Nov. 11, 2020, creating a space to raise funding for themselves and a variety of other organizations including the Veterans Food Bank of Calgary, which has been low on food donations this year due to COVID-19.
While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what this event was for, considering all the different initiatives the event tackles, Shannon says, “When you work with animals, there’s so much more to it than just adoptions.”
“We do work with a lot of different organizations and I think that’s really important, like [with] the Veterans Food Bank program, we’re happy to help with donations to them if we have stuff we can’t use and there’s a lot of networking that happens with [non-profit] organizations,” she says.
And they did — raising over $13,500 for their foundation and providing several hundred pounds of food for the Veterans Food Bank.
The Rescue Friends Christmas Market also creates a space for more than 40 local businesses to showcase their work and reach people they may not have reached otherwise.
Hayley Janzen launched her own artisan jewellery company in July called Hope Charged.
She specializes in creating modern and lightweight clay earrings and is dedicated to spreading hope, joy and peace through creativity.
She pursued a career in digital marketing and communications, but lost a lot of clients due to COVID-19 and had to go on CERB. She quickly pivoted and her love for clay jewellery became her new source of income.
Despite the number of local businesses that have had to shut their doors due to COVID-19, Janzen has had no issue growing her business, popping up in boutiques from British Columbia to Manitoba.
She also provides classes on making clay jewellery and strives to empower and support people to make their own, though COVID-19 has put a strain on this service.
“I have a table that’s big enough to social distance and have classes, but it hasn’t fully taken off because of COVID,” she said, explaining she’s put on women’s wine and clay nights, as well as birthday parties and date nights in the past.
She loves to see the look on people’s faces when they see her jewellery and say a friend would like it. Due to the materials’ lightweight, nickel-free and hypoallergenic nature, the clay earrings, necklaces, barrettes and wall decor make perfect gifts for anyone on your Christmas list.
“Shopping local is more important than ever. So many businesses are shutting down and people are turning to doing their own business instead of working for someone else because they trust themselves and that they’ll keep working,” Janzen says regarding the lack of employment in Alberta.
“Supporting a local business is supporting that person and their family so that’s so important and when you support Hope Charge you’re supporting me. I feel like people who own small businesses want to give as much as they receive, so I also donate to Charity: Water.”
Buying from local and independently-owned companies in Calgary this holiday season not only supports owners and their dreams, but it also stimulates Calgary’s economy and ensures that your money is being invested back into the city and its community where it’s needed most.
Janzen hopes to expand her work into more boutiques across Canada and do more classes and tutorials in the future — but until then you can find her work in Adorn Boutique in Calgary and ZIVA&EM Boutique in Airdrie, along with her virtual shop at hopecharged.com.