From brainiacs to beer drinkers, the annual World Trivia Night saw all types of folks exercise their intellectual muscles Friday night while helping to make sure all kids have the same shot at a brighter future.
The event, held in support of the Children’s Aid Foundation of Ottawa, was back at the Shaw Centre.
The evening raised $132,000 for the non-profit organization, which provides that little bit extra for children, youth and families involved with the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa (CASO). While CASO does receive government funding, there are gaps in the system, said Mairi Thomson-Miller, who joined the foundation last year as its director of resource development and communications, after having voluntarily served on its board for five years.
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The foundation helps youth who are transitioning out of foster care and facing such issues as finding safe and affordable housing, living independently, needing financial literacy, looking for education and employment opportunities, and accessing support for their mental health and wellbeing.
For almost 30 years, the foundation has also been running its Dare to Dream bursary program. It provides financial assistance to young adults, currently or formerly in the care of Children’s Aid, pursue a post-secondary education.
At the event was Alex Driscoll, a global politics student at Carleton University and a Dare to Dream bursary recipient. He injected energy and enthusiasm into the event while delivering brief remarks on stage. “I will say I can feel the love from y’all so much tonight that I believe in myself to not just stop at an honours degree but to get my master’s and a doctorate after that,” he told the crowd. “Your investment in youth helps us to invest in ourselves.”
At almost three-decades old, World Trivia Night is a must-attend for many in Ottawa. “I look forward to this night every year,” said Dave Desabrais, who’s been participating for close to 20 years, he figured. Desabrais is part of the team from Riverside Pub, where he’s also a patron. It was the top fundraising team this year.
Also returning was Kanata-based seismic monitoring solutions company Nanometrics. It had two teams entered. “We are, in fairness, a company full of engineers, accountants, scientists and PhDs, so nerdy trivia is right up our alley,” Marni Francis, vice president of human resources, told OBJ.social.
Later in the evening, organizers honoured Ottawa labour and employment law firm Emond Harnden LLP for 20 years of support, as well as the event host, Dan Pihlainen, retired academic chair of media studies at Algonquin College, and trivia master Paul Paquet. The pair made their grand entrance into the large hall escorted by a couple of Ghostbusters as the catchy theme song from the blockbuster hit blasted.
It was tough luck for those suffering from brain farts that night. There was a strict rule against the use of all handheld devices, such as cell phones, during the trivia game.
World Trivia Night remains a great way to bring awareness to the Children’s Aid Foundation and the work it does in the community, said the organization’s board chair, Anna Lynch, a director at Inuit-owned airline Canadian North (incidentally, it’s just announced it’s launching a new seasonal route in 2024 from Ottawa to Nuuk, Greenland, with a connection in Iqaluit).
“It gets our name out there,” Lynch said of World Trivia Night, while adding that she’s a strong believer every child should be afforded equal opportunities. “It doesn’t matter where they come from, what family they’ve come from, I think it’s really important.”
The foundation helps kids in care of Children’s Aid participate in extracurricular activities and experience the joy of summer camp. As well, it assists foster care families with essential needs, whether it’s providing them with an infant car seat or a backpack full of school supplies.
There to thank the crowd for its support was CASO executive director Kelly Raymond. She’s worked in the region as a social worker for most of her career. “On behalf of the children, youth and families that we serve here in Ottawa, thanks to all of you for your participation and for your generous donations,” she said before wishing everyone “Happy trivia”.