April 4, 2019 2:14 pm
Updated: April 8, 2019 11:01 am

Saskatchewan Chase the Ace school fundraiser defies expectations

An elementary school on a Saskatchewan First Nation exceeds all expectations with a Chase the Ace fundraiser.

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Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. A previous version erroneously stated the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority was contributing an additional 25 per cent of the total raised.

Clifford Wuttunee School marks the one-year anniversary for its Chase the Ace draw on Thursday.

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What began as a playground fundraiser has exceeded all expectations for an elementary school on Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan.

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Clifford Wuttunee School was raising money through bingo nights for a playground before students learned the potential of Chase the Ace draw.

Nathan Arias, a social worker at the school, said he pitches lots of ideas to the principal, but this one finally got the green light.

“Our initial goal, we figured we’d make $5,000,” Arias said.

“We’ve obviously exceeded that. By this Thursday, we’ll be at about $180,000.”

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Students started selling tickets for $5 or $50 for a book of 10 on April 4, 2018.

“At the beginning, no one knew what Chase the Ace was, we had to find on Google actually what it was,” Arias said.

“Getting it out there, we were sitting at gas stations, and we’d sit at Walmart, and people didn’t know what it was, but they wouldn’t buy from me, I know that, but if it wasn’t for these youth behind me, we wouldn’t be as successful as we are today.”

The games is currently in its 38th week, having not drawn over the summer and holidays.

“Right now, we’re averaging about $20,000 to $22,000 a week for the school, the school gets to keep,” Arias said.

“They’re learning that you don’t back down, if you have an idea, go for it, don’t be scared to fail, fail one to 1,000 times and it’s just that one time you do succeed, you’re going to be rewarded.”

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The draw can potentially go until July 11 to decide a winner.

Arias said they can’t spend the money until the draw is over.

Red Pheasant First Nation is roughly 115 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

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