Raffle wrapped up in red tape: Chisasibi’s sport fundraising rules complicate racer’s skidoo raffle

Share Button

2014_Ski-Doo_MX_Z_X-RS_E-TEC_800R_1163034To Chisasibi snowmobile racer Clayton House, the plan seemed simple. He wanted to ride for the Chisasibi Racing Team in the Chisasibi Snowmobile Challenge, originally scheduled to take place February 21-23 (now postponed to March 14-16). But he needed a racing machine. A sponsor stepped up to supply the snowmobile and his team organized a raffle and other fundraising events to pay for it.

Not so fast, said the Chisasibi Sports and Recreation Association (CSRA). Just as everything was ready to run the raffle, House said the CSRA shut him down.

“We were ready to distribute the tickets to all these places willing to help us; local businesses, even in Radisson an hour away,” he told the Nation. (Full disclosure: the Nation was one of the Chisasibi Racing Team’s sponsors.). “We’ve been getting calls non-stop from people who want to buy tickets – they want to support us, plus they want to get a chance to win the machine.”

Unfortunately, said CSRA president Willard Wash, House didn’t check with the CSRA over the timing of the raffle. As a result, the association wouldn’t allow him to hold a raffle to raise funds for his snowmobile.

“We already gave him some fundraisers for him to do,” Wash said. “We gave him a penny-social to fundraise with, we gave him a 50-50, we gave him a poker tournament. Plus we agreed to pay his inscription of $2,000. The only thing that was denied him was the raffle. And this is the one he was really going after. So still he went ahead with it.”

House said that his team carefully put together a letter explaining what they wanted and needed from the CSRA in the form of fundraising permissions.

“We wanted to show them in one shot what it looks like for us. They didn’t budge on our sponsorship,” House said, adding that an unnamed person at the CSRA office had assured him there wouldn’t be a problem.

“To my understanding the guy who said that didn’t do his part to run it through the committee [of the CSRA],” House said.

Wash explained that the CSRA governs fundraising for sports and recreation in Chisasibi because, in the past, too many events were taking place at the same time.

“We schedule everything to do with fundraising,” he said. “We don’t want any double-booking or conflicts with the minor and senior teams. We have a rotating schedule.”

Wash says this is in the best interests of both sports groups and the public. If raffles take place on a schedule, community members won’t have to pick and choose which tickets they can afford to buy on any given week.

Wash says that the timing of House’s raffle conflicted with a draw intended to support the organization of the same race he wanted to enter, putting him in competition with the event itself.

“We only give raffles to people organizing events. He was just a participant in the event,” Wash explained. “We gave Lindy [Bullfrog], who was organizing the ski-doo race, the raffle and told him to go ahead. We even offered to sell raffle tickets for him. Then he mentioned that he saw another raffle out there.”

To House, it made sense that there would be more than one raffle for the event because of the cost of snowmobile racing.

“This is a more expensive sport than your local ball team going to a tournament,” he said.

There’s also the matter of community support. House represents the only team from Chisasibi entered in the race. And he wondered why the CSRA was being so rigid when they could leave it up to the people of Chisasibi to decide whether to buy his raffle tickets or not.

“We’re trying to do things right – we’re not trying to step on toes or rock the boat,” he said. “It’s just the approval from the CSRA [that we’re missing]. The band council is all for it. Even the Chief was trying to buy tickets. They even sponsored it! They’re scratching their heads, wondering what’s wrong with the CSRA.”

According to House, a CSRA official even stopped one of his associates from selling raffle tickets to Chisasibi Chief Davey Bobbish at a minor hockey tournament.

“She said, ‘You can’t buy those,’ and our helper was willing to give the Chief his money back, but the Chief said, ‘No, keep it. I’m helping out the race team.’”

House suspects the CSRA is in a conflict of interest over fundraising events.

“They do stuff like sponsoring,” he said. “They’re going to take care of the sponsoring for entering the race, but they didn’t want us to sell tickets. There’s also another tournament – first week in March is one of the big tournaments we have in town. I’m sure they’re saving all those dates to do raffles themselves.”

He added that his team had submitted a letter offering to give the raffle entirely to the CSRA, or to have them run the contest but have the team help out selling tickets. That letter received no reply.

Wash laughed off accusations that the CSRA has stood in House’s way, noting there was already a raffle booked for that weekend. The CSRA doesn’t have the power to punish House if he were to hold the raffle without permission, even though they have given him some sponsorship already. But Wash said that House and other potential raffle organizers should think about the best interests of the community.

“We’re just telling him to stop, because it’s not really fair to the other people holding raffles, and it wasn’t approved by the CSRA,” said Wash. “Everyone knows in town that the CSRA is the one that approves all the fundraising going on for the 18-and-over.”

But House is fed up with the red tape of the CSRA, and he’s ready to make it political.

“The group that’s in there now, they’ve been trying to [deny fundraising] to other teams as well. It’s almost like we should get all together and get those guys [in the CSRA] out of there. We’re the ones who put them there. Maybe we can put in a different crew that’s more flexible.”

Share Button

Comments are closed.