Siakam Inspires Students
Constable Amanda Frederick got much more than she bargained for after reaching out to the Pascal Siakam PS43 Foundation last November.
With COVID hindering the progress of many students in 43 Division, the foot patrol officer was seeking helpful tech accessories and gadgets for the young people.
“When I told her what I was looking for, she said she would send me some forms to complete and return to her which I did,” said Frederick.
In early December, Siakam’s sister called Frederick saying the Toronto Raptors All-Star would love come to the priority neighbhourhhod the officer is assigned to hand out Christmas gifts.
“I was shocked, but I said, ‘Okay, sure’,” Frederick recounted. “I now had to figure out how to do this as she wanted families to come to a school in the morning and also get gifts. I told her that might be a bit of nightmare logistically, but we could do it with students and recognize the champion that Pascal is.”
Vanessa Siakam agreed.
In the meantime, Frederick contacted the principal at Ecole secondaire catholique Pere-Philippe-Lamarche that is a public separate French first language secondary school at 2850 Eglinton Ave. E. in Scarborough.
William Gahane Ngassam could not believe what he was hearing.
Like Siakam, he is also from the Cameroon.
Frederick and Siakam agreed that 30 Grades 7 to 10 students would meet the basketball forward afterschool and receive gifts cards and a signed shirt.
On December 15, the assigned date of the visit, heavy snowfall prevented Siakam from attending the school.
Another date was set for February.
Again, Siakam had to cancel the visit because he was stuck with the team in Cleveland because of bad weather.
The third time was a charm.
In late March, Siakam attended the school as promised.
“While his sister helped set up the cafeteria for the event, Frederick took the students to a quiet classroom read a quote, ‘Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be’.
“We talked about what it meant for me and to them,” she said. “I told them the reason they are here because I need them to understand that on Eglinton Ave. E. and in our neighbourhood, everyone is a champion.”
A Service member for the last 21 years, Frederick said Vanessa Siakam has promised to work with her on other community initiatives.
She has been at 43 Division since 2006.