October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, Canadian Library Month, Islamic History Month, Autism Awareness Month and Car Safety Month, just to name a few. With so many awareness campaigns, it’s often tough to tell which are legitimate charitable causes and which aren’t.
Kelly Keith, a spokesperson for Manitoba Healthy Living, Youth and Seniors, stated that there is an official process that must be undertaken if an organization wants their campaign to be recognized by governmental departments.
“Requests are generally received by the minister’s office ... (then) referred to a departmental specialist in the appropriate area who has to assess them,” Keith said.
“A proclamation has to be prepared and signed by the (appropriate) minister. The minister often reads the proclamation at an appropriate event.”
Minister Jim Rondeau read one of these proclamations at the Winnipeg Convention Centre to help kickoff Seniors’ and Elders’ Month on Friday, Oct. 1.
Not all are endorsed by the Manitoba government, but Keith said that she has a couple of bowls full of pink ribbons in her department ready for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM).
These events may last all month, as in the case of BCAM, or may be just one day, like World Food Day on Oct.16.
Even though numerous campaigns occur in October, the one garnering the most attention is BCAM. It was started in 1985 to create more awareness of the disease as well as the need for early mammogram testing. It has now grown to become an international event.
Tracy Sopkow of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation recognized that even though this is a major worldwide occasion, keeping a local focus is central to maintaining such a sizeable event.
“An increase in community or third-party events helps to maintain a heightened awareness,” she explained.
Also this month, the Canadian Red Cross is teaming up with other agencies to bring awareness to child abuse.
According to Tony Zerucha of the Red Cross, the month-long tactic is about more than just money.
“It is more to call attention to the issue than a fundraising campaign,” he said.
As many organizations strive for identification in this pool of awareness, many do not have the resources to wage national campaigns and instead turn to social media. On Facebook alone there are hundreds of pages dedicated to all types of interests.
Even though larger associations usually get media attention for official campaigns, October is also the time to recognize pretzels, stamp collecting, spinach-lovers and toilet tank repair.
Published in Volume 65, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 7, 2010)