Huggy Lion was created by a group of concerned Lions from the Nashwaaksis Lions club. Huggy was created as a mascot that children could identify with and relate to. "Huggy’s" message is simple….


The Huggy program was started in the fall of 1984. Lion Ron Evan was the President of the Nashwaaksis Lions Club that year. Lion Brad Woodside was the Drug Awareness chairperson that year. The Drug Awareness committee that year consisted of Lion Brad Woodside, Lion Les Wilson, Lion Bill Scott, Lion Wayne Flynn, Lion Ron Evans, Lion Bill Randall, and Lion Jack Foster.

The first thing...

the committee had to do was create something that would grab the young people’s attention. After several meetings “Huggy” was born. It took four to five months to have “Huggy” made. “Huggy” made his 1st public appearance at the Lions Cabinet Meeting in Edmonston, NB. On April. 28th, 1985. A few days later he was introduced to Fredericton by Dr. Everett Chalmers at a press conference held in Fredericton. The world was introduced to “Huggy” at the Lions International Convention in Dallas Texas a year later.

In 1985, the 1st year, “Huggy” put on 20 school presentations, attended 29 parades and took part in over 50 other functions. “Huggy” and the Lions were very busy. Some of the awards presented to the Nashwaaksis Lions Club since “Huggy’s” creation:In 1985 the Nashwaaksis Lions Club was awarded by Lions International as being one of the Top 10 Lions Clubs in the world. In 1985 there were 37,000 Lions Clubs worldwide. In 1987 the Nashwaaksis Lions Club received the Volunteer Award from the City of Fredericton. Also in 1987 the Nashwaaksis Lions Club received the Federal Solicitor General Crime Prevention Award.

Dave Emmerson of Riverview ford in Fredericton provided the Nashwaaksis Lions Club with a van the club could use while on parades, visiting schools and other public appearances with “Huggy”. The vans were painted with “Huggy’s” picture and the “Try Hugs, Not Drugs” logo. This was a huge help in getting the “Huggy” message out to the public.

The Lions contacted Wayne Gretzky and asked if he would pose in a photo with “Huggy”.  He agreed.  The picture was turned into a poster.  To date the Nashwaaksis Lions Club has given away over 200,000 posters to local children over the years.  Just recently “Huggy” and MLB Player Matt Stairs were photographed.  That picture has been made into a poster as well.

In September 1985, Dianne Wilkins, a teacher at Park Street School started the “Huggy Northside Choir”. The choir consisted of elementary school age children, they sang for churches, schools and community groups all the while promoting the “Huggy” message.

“Huggy” and the Nashwaaksis Lions were also in a parade in concord New Hampshire U.S.A. They met another school teacher, Christa McAuliffe who was scheduled to go up into space on the Space Shuttle Challenger. Christa was to be the 1st teacher in space. As we all know the Space Shuttle Challenger and its crew fell back to earth 74 seconds into the flight.

The “Huggy” program has grown a lot over the years. The Nashwaaksis Lions Club and “Huggy” started the “Huggy Youth Treatment Center Foundation” this would eventually turn into Portage Atlantic. Portage Atlantic is running today at Cassidy Lake just outside Sussex New Brunswick. Portage Atlantic helps the youth of the Maritimes and Newfoundland with their alcohol and drug abuse problems. If you would like to book “Huggy” for your school, event, or parade please contact a Lions club member.

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