Golfing for a cause: Kate Sharl golf benefit raises money and awareness for special needs

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The Kate Sharl Foundation (KSF) is a non-profit organization with a mission to provide Indigenous special needs children with access high-quality, culturally appropriate resources to help them overcome their physical and developmental challenges.

On September 9, the KSF hosted its first annual golf benefit at the Château Cartier golf course in Gatineau to help raise funds for the fledgling foundation and give it some much-needed publicity. A partnership with CREECO, the event raised over $30,000 for the foundation.

The idea for the event dates back to 2014 when the Cree Regional Economic Enterprises (CREECO) invited KSF to one of its annual golf benefits. “That event was a big hit, so we thought it would be an excellent idea to host our own golf benefit,” explained KSF president Judy Nakogee.

Nakogee and her board members decided they wanted to do something large and memorable for these children with special needs. “Planning our first golf benefit wasn’t easy,” admitted Nakogee. “My team and I never hosted a charity event this big. But thanks to James Napash – he helped us get sponsors.”


Finding sponsors for a summer event isn’t easy because it’s peak season for events, with summer sports tournaments and fishing derbies all looking for sponsorships. Yet, 18 major companies, including the James Bay Eeyou Corporation, sponsored the KSF golf benefit.

Over 60 people attended, including parents of children with special needs. “I appreciated that they showed up, this tells me that they support the Kate Sharl Foundation, and understand what we are trying to do,” said Nakogee.

Maggie Brien of Mistissini was the guest speaker and talked about her son Elias, who was diagnosed with Dandy-Walker malformation and Variant Syndrome (confirmed) and Freeman-Sheldon syndrome (not confirmed yet). Brien said the doctors informed her that Elias could have more syndromes; one of which doesn’t have a name yet. They call it 9q34.11.

Brien was invited because people would get a better understanding what parents who have children with special needs go through every day. “On the day (Elias) had the seizure, he lost control of everything like eating solid foods, playing, rolling over and sitting up on his own,” Brien said. “He couldn’t do those things anymore. He still needs an O2 sat monitor and oxygen with him.”

Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come attended the event with his wife, Mary-Ann. “We already have daycares in our Cree communities,” he said. “I was pleased to see the Wemindji daycare assign a room for special needs, and I encourage other Cree communities to do the same.”

When parents apply for financial assistance from the foundation, the request will go before the review board, which will decide if the Cree Health Board can cover the expense.

“KSF doesn’t cover the full amount,” said Nakogee. “We also have requirements for the parents. For example, last year KSF sent two children to summer camps down south, the parents paid part of the cost and KSF covered the remaining balance.”


The name of the foundation comes from the mother of Kate Sharl, an Innu from Pointe Bleu, Nakogee noted. “Her goal is to help all children with special needs not only in Eeyou Istchee but in other First Nations. It is possible. Right now it’s under our wings, dreams can come true.”

For those interested in helping KSF:

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