Manchester first visited the Arctic as a young paratrooper in the 60s. While completing various deployments from Alaska to Hudson Bay and even further northern, he witnessed first hand the deprivation endured by many northern Canadians.
“It was very bothersome -- the living conditions, the sense of hopelessness,” he said, adding the situation hasn't improved in 40 years.
Housing in many northern communities is substandard, health care is difficult to come by, and education is available only sporadically. Some 70 per cent of Inuit preschoolers regularly go hungry; among adults, the percentage is even higher.
“We send so much money around the planet in foreign aid and humanitarian aid, it's almost like (we think) we don't have a problem here in Canada,” Manchester said. ”The people there are pretty much forgotten.”
The Canadian Arctic Service Corps is hoping to raise $200,000 in cash, goods and in-kind services to deliver immediate aid to northern communities and support long-term strategies to help those communities become self-sufficient.
Manchester believes that awareness of the problem among southern Canadians is the first step.
“We see this as a beginning of a long process to make change actually happen in a real way.”