The bookkeeper of the Yellowknife Women’s Society was surprised Wednesday morning when she discovered the organization had received donations from across the United States.
Upon further digging, she learned they were prompted by a video posted to Twitter by Dustin Milligan, an actor from Yellowknife known for his role as Ted Mullins on Schitt’s Creek.
In the video, Milligan said his only wish for his 35th birthday was for fans to donate to three organizations in Yellowknife: the women’s society, the Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife, and the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation.
“I thought it was great. It’s so cool to have someone from Yellowknife using his platform to promote local organizations,” said Neesha Rao, interim executive director of the women’s society.
“Just being recognized by him and drawing attention to our work is really great.”
Rao added she had yet to watch Schitt’s Creek but said, “I definitely want to check it out now.”
As of Thursday morning, Rao said the women’s society had received about $500 in donations that will go towards its projects.
Milligan told Cabin Radio he was inspired to make the video as he has been learning more about the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism, and oppression in western society, and wanted to use his growing social media platform for good.
“As my birthday rolled around and I started getting all these birthday wishes, I just thought, well, why not use this little bit of attention that I’m getting at this moment,” he said, “and use it to bring some awareness to some local organizations that help Indigenous groups, and oppressed groups, and groups that are in need in my hometown.”
A handmade sign welcomes people to Yellowknife’s Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation healing camp. Emelie Peacock/Cabin Radio
Schitt’s Creek is currently nominated for 15 Emmy Awards.
“It’s definitely very humbling and very strange to have started on a small Canadian series that’s now grown to the place that it is today,” Milligan said.
“The fact that it’s giving me this little bit of a platform to kind-of shift focus from the show itself on to different groups that are in need, and could use help from some of the fans of the show? I’m ecstatic about that.”
Milligan said he did some research and learned more about the three organizations. He encourages Yellowknifers to let him know if there are any other groups in the city that could use his support.
“I loved what they were doing, what they stood for in their overall missions and messages,” he said.
Wilbert Cook, executive director of the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation, said he appreciated Milligan’s message.
“It means a lot. Any amount really, really definitely is appreciated,” he said, noting the organization largely works with people experiencing homelessness and addictions.
“Even an acknowledgement or walking by them or, you know, even a small act of kindness and respect for them really goes a long way.”
The Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife also shared its excitement that a star from the Canadian sitcom is contributing directly to 2SLGBTQ+ northern youth.
“Schitt’s Creek showed us a world where homophobia did not exist, a world where 2SLGBTQ+ folks are unconditionally loved and celebrated!” a post on the coalition’s Facebook page stated.