TJ’s Gift Foundation has its roots in the TJ Wiebe Educational Awareness Fund in the Louis Riel School Division, and was formed when TJ Wiebe was murdered at 20 years of age.
TJ had had some involvement in the drug world before he died, and so his family, with the knowledge of what drugs do to families, decided that they had to do something to create a greater awareness of the dangers of drugs in youth. The money that was collected at TJ’s funeral was dedicated to this purpose and the fund was formed.
The program was designed to be a peer education program where students and teachers can access money from the fund to support learning about drugs. In order to access funds, students and teachers must design a program to learn about the dangers of drugs, they must sign an oath saying that they are free of drugs and intend to remain so and they must teach what they have learned to other students.
The fund grew to approximately $8000. However, it was clear that that amount was not sustainable. The Wiebe family decided that they needed to work to ensure that it would be sustainable. With this in mind, the TJ’s Gift Gala Evening was planned and held on May 16, 2007. The dinner and dance gala involved a sumptuous dinner, magic, music and dancing, along with a live auction, diamond ring raffle and silent auctions. $54,000 was raised at this event.
The tremendous support received for this gala made it clear that the community not only sees the real need to address the problems of drug involvement, but also is willing to put resources into helping our youth stay away from drugs. The gala was an unprecedented event with support from business leaders, community members and politicians, all working together.
With the success of this event, it was clear that this was a program that should be opened up to all youth. Thus, the TJ’s Gift Foundation was formed. It is the intent that this foundation will be open to the same type of peer education program currently at play in Louis Riel School Division, but throughout all other 5 school divisions in Winnipeg.