MOOSE FACTORY Population 2,500: A vision of befriending a community in the north six years ago has become an incredible experience. As a snowball gains volume while rolling down a hill, so too does the circle of Friends of the North continue to expand. We have made many friends during our six years of visiting Moose Factory. Much more important is the fact our friends in the north know they have many caring brothers and sisters in the south. We continue to be inspired by the sharing the Cree culture. Our face to face meetings with the program leaders in Moose Factory identified items that would be beneficial to those they serve.
KID’S CLUB Father Norm, the Anglican priest was delighted to see the second year of kid’s club expand from sixteen children to twenty-two this summer. When the returning children ran into our arms with big hugs upon our arrival, Norm was as happy as we were. Two of the well received crafts were the tipi decorating and puppets. Sack races encouraged lots of participation. Of course, snacks upon arrival and departure and a complete lunch and lots of hugs made for a fun time for everyone. A very big thank you to Norm and his wife Jean for their hospitality.
ELDERS OUTREACH Irene and Doris were blessed to be invited and attend a luncheon on Elder Abuse Awareness. Some shared stories and the memories still hurt. What a privilege it was to be included in this powerful gathering. When asked, Peggy, the co-ordinator advised that she will gladly accept warm cardigan sweaters for men and women and that new diabetic socks are a priority. Thanks to your generosity three large bags of warm sweaters as well as diabetic socks, were sent and gratefully accepted prior to Christmas with a prompt reply from Peggy: “We received the nice warm sweaters for our Elders in the community and thank you all for the donations.” It was wonderful to have the positive feedback. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, Kleenex, shavers, socks, new tea towels, broaches, batteries, puzzles, games, wool, knitting books, and diabetic cook books were welcomed. Peggy also visits the Hospital and takes “care packages” with her. Often there are patients from further up the coast that need basics.
PROJECT GEORGE under the leadership of Charlie continues to expand; thus the need increases to purchase or build a shelter/supply depot in the bush. Without a permanent building, accommodation must be rented – thus the initial expense of having their own facility would be cost effective in the long run. In addition to ensuring all of the youth have sufficient weather-appropriate clothing and footwear for their “back to the land cultural experience”, Charlie has suggested blankets and sleeping bags. The youth certainly appreciated the coats, snow boots, hats, forty pair of winter socks and flashlights sent at Christmas.
The Youth Centre is one of the most beautiful buildings in the community. The respect youth show for this gathering place is incredible. Upon arrival we were greeted with twenty or thirty pair of shoes left at the door to keep the mud/snow from tracking inside from the unpaved streets. The programs offered are very impressive: from arts and crafts, culture and language, cooking, to drumming/drum making, with athletics being the busiest program. Youth centre director, Carmen, identified arts and craft supplies, especially paints, as well as warm hoodies and track pants as items in demand.
Healthy Babies, Healthy Children Rita, the leader of the program said the new Moms love the four-piece knitted outfits. Knitters made many beautiful large receiving blankets for newborn babies, which are really appreciated. Rita also advised large flannel receiving blankets and knitted baby mitts without thumbs, would be beneficial. Some moms, who wish to continue with the traditional baby carrier, sew Moss Bags with a flannel lining for their new babies – what we might call a bunting bag. Rita sent a warm thank you from community members for the package sent at Christmas, that included sweaters, hats, booties, blankets, and baby food, as well as gifts in school back packs for the other children in the family. We are blessed to have so many talented women who have gifts they are willing to share.
KASHECHEWAN is a relatively small community of about 1,700; where many people have to be evacuated in the spring due to floods. There have been promises of relocation away from the flood plain, but this has yet to happen. As a result, this community experiences greater poverty than many along the Hudson Bay coast. In Kashechewan nurses welcomed twenty two bags of clothing, which were distributed from the nursing station. The fifty food bags shipped helped to fill empty cupboards in this remote community.
EDUCATION Doris and Irene welcomed the opportunities to share their involvement with the Moose Factory community. During the past year, both have spoken at Churches and Service Groups, and their presentation was always warmly and well received. In September, Linda organized the showing of the documentary Third World Canada at the library in Kingston to an attentive audience. Dr. Michael Gauthier led the discussion and shared how his childhood resembled one of the youth in the film. This was a great kick off to the Food Hamper program, known as Fall Feast Bags.
SUMMARY: More and more people are becoming Friends of the North and contributing to the Moose Factory programs. From school classes, choir, churches, Friends for Change, Metro, to families and individuals. Countless volunteer hours have gone towards connecting with our Brothers and Sisters in the North. This year 82 bags of clothing were sent north. In addition, a total of 132 food bags; an unbelievable 3,300 pounds, were shipped to the people in northern communities.
WITH HEARTFELT GRATITUDE
Doris Thomas, Irene Clarke and Linda Tucker