Where to give so that all Cree can enjoy the seasonal feast this holiday season

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While sugar-plum fairies may be dancing in the minds of some children of the north come Christmas, for others it’s a time of worry that they won’t get to participate in part of the fun and joy that is Christmas. This is why most communities collect food, toys and donations so that the less fortunate can enjoy the holiday season. Here is how you can help spread the joy in your community.


The holiday food drive is being held by the local Cree Nation Youth Council in Chisasibi. According to Anita Napash of the CNYC, “We’ll take cash donations or toys or cheques to buy gifts for needy children or to purchase turkeys. Help out other youth and other people under 35. Last year, we had 90 applicants with a total of 208 kids.”


Public Health is giving away turkeys in Eastmain with participants in their programs, including: Head Start, Mom’s Time Out, Brighter Futures, the Teen Group, and the Traditional Group as well as their Junior Canadian Rangers. According to Andrea Mianscum, turkeys are being distributed to all of the families whose children participate in any of these life-enriching programs. 


Coordinated by the Wellness Centre and assisted by Public Safety, Nemaska’s annual food drive for families in need will continue without a toy because of distribution complications. If you would like to contribute, there will be a donation box at the mall/store in Nemaska for dried goods. “We do the food drive during Christmas because we know it’s a time when people want to give gifts even if they don’t have enough for themselves,” said Stella Moar of the Wellness Centre. “This helps everyone give.”


In Mistissini, the Meechum store is being renovated but they are still preparing for their yearly Wreath of Hope event.

To meet the needs and prepare the food baskets and children’s gifts, Meechum is approaching things differently this year. They will continue to raise money for the Wreath of Hope fund. Customers can contribute $5 or more to the fund and their names will be written on a paper wreath that will be displayed on store windows. A wreath will be hung on the store window to display the amount that has been raised. The goal is to raise enough funds to prepare baskets for all families in need and a little extra for needs that come up throughout the year.

Their Angel Tree will also be set up differently, with a binder prepared with angels that people can select and sign for either Philomene Rabbitskin or Ariel Mattawashish. These gifts will be distributed to families in need.

Meechum’s staff and management agree that their greatest moment is when they prepare the baskets and organize the beautifully wrapped gifts in the store. Staff and other volunteers help prepare and deliver these to families in need.


A holiday turkey basket will be distributed to families in need by the band office in Oujé-Bougoumou. If anyone would like to donate food, financial support or gifts, they are asked to approach the Wellness Department located at the Oujé-Bougoumou Band Office.


Given the community’s recent tragedy and subsequent search-and-rescue efforts, planning for the annual food drive has been put on hold. We’ll update you when the information becomes available.


Every year in Waswanipi, the entire Social Development Department comes together to coordinate and plan food and gift donations for the holiday season. A meeting is scheduled in mid-November to discuss this year’s food drive. According to Irene Otter, drop-off locations for the drive take place at the church, grocery store, band office and clinic. An update can be expected sometime soon. “We’ve found in the past that giving back and supporting the less fortunate is good for our community as a whole,” said Otter.


The Wemindji Band Office is coordinating food, clothing, financial and gift donations this holiday season. If you’re interested in donating, contact Stella Lameboy Gillpin, Director of Community Services: 819-978-0264, #222 or director_CS@wemindji.ca


According to Francis George at the Whapmagoostui Band Office, raising money for the needy so they can have Christmas hampers is all about Christmas bazaars, bake sales and fun events. George, who is from the Women’s Association, said they will be posting photos of their money-raising activities on Facebook for those interested in checking it out.


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