On Nov. 24, 2017, roughly $50,000 in fresh veggies and dehydrated soup was delivered in the Gateway to the North through the generosity of a variety of organizations.
The donations are to be split between communities in the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN), Montreal Lake, as well as The Full Gospel Outreach Centre, S.H.A.R.E and the Prince Albert Food Bank.
For Beverly Hadland, the ambassador to First Peoples for the Crossroads Christian Communications organization, the donation of food represents an action of reconciliation.
“We’re saying we want to stand with you and we want to undo a lot of those that have been done before in a hurtful way,” Hadland said. “Since Canada 150 there seems to be a super awareness across the country [about reconciliation].”
Hadland said her organization worked with various First Nations across Canada but the donation on Nov. 24 is the first time PBCN has received such a donation. Discussions are underway to continue the donations four times a year.
For Simon Jobb, the PBCN Councillor for Southend, said he was thankful to be a part of the donation. The Cree Nation’s development corporation helped pay some of the transportation costs associated with the donation.
Jobb said any fresh food is a much-appreciated boost for community members in need.
“It feels great knowing that a large portion of this food will be going to our community members,” Jobb said. “The stores that we have in our community, they have a limited space for produce, so our produce runs out. This helps out a lot… It’s great to be part of this.”
Jai Budhanlall, a Saskatoon resident, helped coordinate the unpacking and distribution of the donation. She said she’s visited a few of the communities where the food will be going, and she recognized the need for the fresh veggies.
“I’m so happy we’re doing this so we can connect communities together and be able to combat the issue of poverty in these northern communities and I know how expensive stuff is,” Budhanlall said. “Even for bread, I didn’t want to buy a loaf of bread because of how expensive it is, so I can imagine they’re enjoying fresh produce.”
PBCN member and store owner Tommy Bird helped coordinate the massive donation by starting a discussion with Hadland about the possibility of connecting with farmers in Southwestern Ontario to donate food in Saskatchewan.
Bird said the donation will be going to residents in need, Elders and the foodbank in Pelican Narrows who distributes food through the community.
“It’s just that feel-good Christmas spirit. It feels good to help somebody, that you can make a difference in their life,” Bird said.
Article By: Bryan Eneas