THE BEGINNING; FALL 2012
The ‘Friends of René Brunelle’ group first began unofficially in October 2012, after the MNR announced closings and cuts to Ontario Parks. René Brunelle Provincial Park was schedule to shut down permanently as well as many other provincial parks in our Northeastern Ontario region. Local people joined forces to prevent the closing of their favorite park; the unrest spread rapidly and people started to send letters to Government officials to let them know how important our park is for our community.
This extraordinary solidarity movement led to the creation of a group called ‘Friends of René Brunelle ‘ on social media where people would share ideas, organize their plan of action and voice their concerns. With the Municipality of Moonbeam and the collaboration of FONOM, regional mayors, as well as many volunteers, negotiations took place with the MNR. Our government listened and in February 2013, René Brunelle Provincial Park was part of a ‘pilot project’ that had the following requirements: the park had to prove that it could be financially viable and the Municipality of Moonbeam had to sign as guarantor to absorb any deficits. It was a risk that the Municipality agreed to take, knowing how important the park is for the region.
In the summer of 2013, the Friends of René Brunelle Provincial Park became an official registered non-profit organization.
- In 2013: The Friends held an Appreciation Day in August. Corn on the Cob and Hot Dogs were served and activities for kids took place at Phipps Point to thank the campers for their support.
- In 2014: The Friends organised a “Rediscover the Park” day in July where we welcomed over 400 people at Phipps Point. Two artists entertained people with music and a Park staff helped people try the rental canoes.
- 2014: The Friends purchased and installed soccer equipment and basketball equipment to promote healthy outdoor activities for kids.
- 2014 – 2015: Some Friends members organised a very popular “movie night” where campers watched movies outside every Saturday night.
- 2014-2015- The Friends built this bilingual website to promote our park.
- 2015 – Members of the Friends made an appearance in the popular French show “La Petite Séduction” to talk about the Park and the community’s solidarity movement that played a role in keeping it open (Aired June 24, 2015 on Radio Canada (French CBC))
- 2015- The Friends purchased a Swing set and installed it near the comfort station
- 2015 – Cabin Construction Project: The construction of a Rustic Cabin was made possible by a partnership with the following members: Ontario Parks, Collège Boréal, Friends of René Brunelle Provincial Park, the City of Kapuskasing, the Kashechewan First Nation community that were residing in Kapuskasing, the Municipality of Moonbeam, the Hishkoonikun Education Authority, Eastview National Car Rental and Caisse Populaire. The construction was part of a carpentry course that gave a group of Kashechewan First Nation’s members an opportunity to gain valuable skills while giving the park a chance to increase its revenue.
- 2016 – Science North’s En Route Travelling interactive exhibit was brought to René Brunelle Provincial Park by the Friends and the Moonbeam Public Library.
- ONGOING – Since 2015, the Friends have a partnership with the Moonbeam Public Library to provide activities for kids in the Provincial Park a few times a month during the camping season.
- ONGOING – Since 2013, a member of the Friends has been counting bird species sighted in the park at least twice a year and keeping a list.
Membership and Donations
By becoming a member of the Friends of René Brunelle or by donating, you are supporting our efforts to keep the park operational for future generations. All proceeds are used towards the park and towards recreational and educational activities to promote the park.
Members can attend annual meetings, become volunteers and actively participate in activities. To become a member or to make a donation, contact us.