Save Castaways and Support the United Way

Story by Tiffany Jarva, Photos by Kaylee Lambert

The Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Griffon crew is prepared to be super busy very soon rescuing groups of castaways stranded at the Thunder Bay Main Lighthouse on Lake Superior.

On Saturday June 1st, castaways representing 15 local community groups (agencies supported by the United Way) like Our Kids Count, Thunder Bay Good Food Box, and Community Clothing Assistance will be sending out S.O.S. messages and won’t be rescued until they meet their fundraising goals. “The Great Lighthouse Rescue supports many worthy charities–some are small in size, some are larger but together we are working to make people’s lives better,” says Linda Bruins from Evergreen A United Neighbourhood, “With the Royal Canadian Navy keeping us safe, we are working together to raise funds, create awareness and get rescued! We are so excited to work alongside some of the best in Thunder Bay.”

Honorary Captains and rescue crews will have the opportunity to join the HMCS Griffon crew aboard a 24-foot rigid-hulled inflatable boat to rescue the stranded castaways and return them safely to Prince Arthur’s Landing– along with a few high-octane maneuvers as they speed across the harbour. “Last year’s Great Lighthouse Rescue was a huge success; it gave us the chance to give back to the community through demonstrating the skills of our hardworking crew,” says Lieutenant Commander Farley Farn of HMCS Griffon. “We’re so pleased to be able to support this fantastic event once again this year, and we look forward to seeing everyone out at the marina for a day of fun and giving back.”

Members of the public are invited to come down to Thunder Bay’s Marina Park to cheer on and support the castaways and enjoy the festivities which include harbour tours (book online!) by Sail Superior, local food trucks, community agency information booths with engaging activities and the not-to-be-missed Sea Shanty Sing Along with the Foundry Singers. Rescues will be conducted from Pier 3 throughout the day, starting at 10:00 am until approximately 5:00 pm.

“We’re delighted to partner with the Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Griffon crew once again for the Great Lighthouse Rescue,” says Albert Brulé, CEO of United Way of Thunder Bay. “After the success of last year’s rescue, we knew we wanted to make this an annual event. The Great Lighthouse Rescue of 2024 will have even more twists, turns, and exciting opportunities, and promises to be bigger, better, and wetter than ever before.”

This year’s Lighthouse Rescue will also feature a matching gift incentive from an anonymous donor. This mysterious Honorary Commander is challenging the community to support rescue missions through fundraising efforts, offering to match all donations up to $15,000. To help fuel the mission further, long-time United Way supporter Cliff Friesen has recently agreed to serve as Honorary Commander of Operation Lighthouse Rescue and is challenging business and community leaders to join in the rescue and come onboard as Honorary Captains and help raise funds to undertake one of the 15 rescue operations. Friesen will match funds donated up to $25,000 which means there is now a total of $40,000 available for matching funds. All funds donated will go to support crucial community programming and services to meet the needs of local people.

The Great Lighthouse Rescue was a tremendous success last year and with new festival components and more teams, it is sure to be an event to experience again this year. Come out to support the much-needed programming and services of United Way-funded community groups at Thunder Bay’s Marina Park this Saturday June 1st, 2024, 10 am to 5 pm.

To help support rescue crews and Honorary Captains, find festival information, or book your harbour tour, visit: