On Monday, March 26, The Rick Mercer Reporttook a trip outside the confines of the CBC offices to shoot a segment at McGill honoring the top fundraising efforts for a Canadian university in the Spread the Net campaign. A group of McGill students lead by Remy Ventura (Political Science) and Monique Evans (Political Science/Chemistry) fundraised from September 13, 2011 until February of this year in order to provide people in Liberia, Uganda and Rwanda with bed nets to prevent the spread of malaria. The Spread the Net Campaign is the brainchild of Rick Mercer and Belinda Stronach, who co-founded the nation-wide campaign along with UNICEF Canada in 2006 after a trip to Africa with Professor Jeffrey Sachs, economist and Director of the UN Millennium Project at the time. Spread the Net challenges students in elementary school, high school and university to raise awareness and provide a cost-effective solution to malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Leading up to Rick’s highly anticipated visit, Remy and Monique reached out to many student groups on campus to help McGill’s fundraising efforts, most notably the PPO (the infamous lab coat sporting engineers) who contributed $1,900 of McGill’s $9,147.51 total through Blues Pub and other collections. Other contributions came from The Institute for Study of International Development events, selling popcorn at BDA, samosa sales, coat checks, a Tonal Ecstasy concert at Gerts, classroom collections and an email campaign amongst the organizers’ network of family and friends. With a bed net costing $10, McGill and other Canadian schools’ efforts will go far in acting as a physical barrier against malaria carrying mosquitoes.
The itinerary for the day was packed with various segments being shot around the downtown campus, including an interview of Monique and Remy by Rick, a Baja racer drive-by on campus, a ceremonial induction of Rick into the PPO and a BBQ being served up outside of McConnell Engineering. In traditional PPO spirit, Rick was presented with a customized lab coat, fully decked out with a caricature of him steering a CBC boat, and was signed by each member on the front. As camera-ready McGill students awaited Rick’s announcement in James Square, the crowd was motivated by McGill’s Fight Band who led several songs to keep everyone motivated amidst the chilly temperatures. Rick addressed the crowd of a hundred odd students via megaphone, saying, “I know how hard it is to be a student and live on limited funds, and I know how hard it is to raise money on a university campus, but you all reached into your pockets and helped out. McGill saved a lot of lives”.
McGill’s spot will be seen on The Rick Mercer Report aired on Tuesday, April 3 on CBC.