Area Girl Guide leaders have had quite an eventful week that now has the group looking seeking legal action against their provincial body.
For the past year, local guides have been lobbying to keep their beloved 42-acre Camp Caritou on Lake Nosbonsing from being sold by the Girl Guides of Canada's Ontario Council.
On Monday it all came to a head when officials from the provincial office arrived before a scheduled meeting with the local group and changed the locks and seized the property.
Local troop leader Cindy Brownlee says despite their objections to closing the camp, local leaders have been working with the provincial council in good faith, but based on the underhanded move by the provincial office Monday all bets are off and the local team is moving to block the sale.
“We agreed to meet with them on Monday we knew it was the property appraisers that were the ones that were going to go ahead with the sale,” she explains.
“We weren’t happy with that but we weren’t going to fight them there was no intention to stop what they were doing. We agreed back and forth negotiating the best time for everybody involved and they agreed yup 4:30 on Monday would be great.”
“And then when we were tipped off that they were there with a locksmith in the morning it was like it was more demonstration of how underhanded and they just don’t play fair. They’re not honouring the Girl Guide mission and principals promise and law like we all should be.”
Following the altercation a letter (attached below) was sent to local group informing them that ‘there is to be no further use of this facility,’ and that the provincial office is ‘moving this camp property forward to full closure, appraisal and sale’.
The letter also informs the local leaders that ‘No funds can be solicited in the name of Girl Guides to ‘save’ Camp Caritou’.
They were told actions contrary to the directives outlined in the letter (attached below) ‘will be considered a breach of the Girl Guide Code of
Conduct. Disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with the Performance Management Procedures of Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada’.
Brownlee says the local group is going to take a stand and find a way to raise funds and fight the provincial body. She encourages the public to visit onmyhonour.ca to find out how they can become involved in the movement .
“We really don’t want them to continue to run the organisation like this we think the organisation is worthy of a lot more respect than this.”
“The Girl Guides of Canada Ontario Council they all have email addresses if you go to guidesontario.org find those email addresses and email all your concerns.”
“Certainly the more people that tell them that we’re not happy with things the better … somebody happens to slip me some money and I hand it over to our lawyer – I’d be happy to do that.”
“We’re looking at ways to formally collect money but at the moment we are not sure how to do that so right now a letter to the province would be perfect.”
Brownlee says the group is working hard to keep the politics of the week away from the girls.
“We try not to get the girls in the middle I mean this is bigger politics, the girls really benefit from the Girl Guide program, I mean it’s a wonderful organisation, and we don’t want to compromise their enjoyment of the organisation.”
“Certainly we’d love their parents to come out and support them. And yah the girls are going to be disappointed their camping opportunities are gone and it is very difficult for us to find enough suitable camping locations for these kids to go to so a lot of groups just aren’t camping because they can’t find the right place to go.”
Carol Zabicot has been a local leader for 8 years and says in light of this week’s activities she is considering leaving the guide organization altogether.
“Well I really feel kind of ill inside when I think about the fact that Camp Caritou is going to be sold.”
“These provincial leaders are not showing good examples for us,” she states.
“I feel really torn up inside that we don’t have any say. That they are trying to push these decisions through, that they've arranged it so that they have all the power suddenly, they’re the ones with the money, they’re the ones being paid they’re the ones making the decisions and suddenly for the volunteers who are here because we care about it have no say and we are just supposed to do what we’re told.”
“So when I heard that they had snuck in at 11 to change the locks and to just tell us that we’re out without you know so much as a telephone call or anything made me feel really upset. I’m very upset, I’m very angry.”
“Really on the edge of quitting right now, I’m staying in to fight for our camp because as a member I feel I have a little more power to help fight for it. But really I disagree with the way they’re running things. I disagree with a lot of the decisions that have been made.”
Please be advised that Ontario Council has been on site at Camp Caritou and the locks have now been changed. There is to be no further use of this facility nor are the locks to be changed again by anyone other than Ontario Council. We are moving this camp property forward to full closure, appraisal and sale.
Arrangements will be made for the equipment and supplies to be removed from the site and provided to local units for their use, other Guiding facilities, or public use. This will be decided and managed by individuals appointed by Ontario Council. If anyone has personal items at the site, arrangements will be made for these to be collected prior to the implementation of this process.
Since all of the ongoing expenses for the camp are being managed provincially, no Girl Guides of Canada member is permitted to solicit, collect or receive funds for Camp Caritou. No funds can be solicited in the name of Girl Guides to ‘save’ Camp Caritou.
Actions contrary to these directives will be considered a breach of the Girl Guide Code of Conduct. Disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with the Performance Management Procedures of Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada should anyone be found in contravention. As adult Members and mentors, it is our responsibility to be proper role models for the girls. We trust, therefore, that we will have your full cooperation.
Marnie Cumming, Provincial Commissioner
Chris Burton, Chief Commissioner