Phantom Screens CEO C. Esther de Wolde cuts Stephen Hemphill’s hair during a fundraising celebration at the company’s head office on Wednesday (Oct. 6). (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

Abbotsford’s Phantom Screens raises $20,000 for UFV Indigenous studies

Three employees offer up their hair to help fund scholarship for students interested in Halq’eméylem

Three Phantom Screens employees proved their company is a cut above the rest when it comes to raising money.

Chief supply chain officer Stephen Hemphill, channel marketing manager Jeret Unger and human resources generalist Brandon Formosa put their luscious locks on the line and helped raise and then donate $20,000 to go to a yearly scholarship for University of the Fraser Valley students looking to learn the Halq’eméylem language of the Stó:lō people.

The hairy trio saw their COVID-19 cuts chopped off in front of dozens of employees on Wednesday (Oct. 6) afternoon.

Phantom Screens CEO C. Esther De Wolde said the idea came about a few months ago, and it was decided that staff, suppliers and distributors would donate money and then vote on if the three men would ‘save’ or ‘cut’ their hair.

Save received $9,182, while cut collected $10,465. Another $353 did not cast a vote, but the numbers don’t lie and ‘cut’ was ultimately chosen. Money was raised from Sept. 13 to 30.

Hemphill addressed the crowd and said he was initially inspired to support local First Nations after taking an Indigenous Canada online course at the University of Alberta.

“I became very aware and moved by that course, as well as all the news articles this summer about the discovery of the unmarked graves in Kamloops and the news about all the other residential schools,” he said.

From there he connected with representatives at UFV to figure out a good way to support that school’s Indigenous studies program.

“It gave us an opportunity to provide a legacy of support and nurture this language and culture,” he said. “It seemed like the right thing to do.”

UFV’s Shirley Hardman, the senior advisor, Indigenous affairs for the school thanked all those who participated and made this scholarship possible.

De Wolde said she was proud of the three men who gave up their hair and also the many people who donated.

“It shows that everyone here embraces the value of generosity,” she said. “We have a lot of entry-level positions here and they are some of the most giving, it’s amazing. But everyone contributed.”

She pointed out that Phantom Screens regularly supports World Vision and the Cyrus Centre, and in the past have helped fundraise for Habitat for Humanity.

Phantom Screens employs 230 people and has been a longtime company in Abbotsford, establishing themselves in the local market back in 1992. De Wolde has been the CEO of the company since 1996.

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