One First Nation in southern Manitoba has helped their members during the COVID-19 pandemic by distributing care packages to every household on the reserve.
“As a leader, it definitely brings peace of mind,” said Samantha Wilson.
Wilson is a band councillor from Rolling River First Nation, just over 200 kilometres west of Winnipeg.
On March 30, a group of volunteers from the community packaged and distributed 144 care packages to every single house on the reserve as well as 14 packages for band members living in the nearby town of Erickson.
“There is some form of comfort that we can provide for them, to know that we’ve reached out to them and have done what we could for them to make sure they are OK in this worrisome time,” said Wilson.
The packages were placed into large plastic totes and included toilet paper, paper towels, corned beef and ham, rice, dry cereal, oatmeal, juice crystals, vinyl gloves as well as one flat of eggs and 10 pounds of potatoes which were sourced from nearby Hutterite colonies.
For families with infants, the packages also included diapers and three cases of baby formula.
Wilson and a group of band members came up with the idea in early March to create care packages. She said she was worried about prices becoming inflated and wanted to make sure something was done to help people living in her community.
“We had access to a retailer, and we thought it would be a good idea to buy at a wholesale price and distribute that product to our people,” said Wilson.
Grateful for the help
Natalie Shannacappo from Rolling River First Nation usually drives to Winnipeg for groceries but hasn’t been to the city in three weeks. Worried about the virus, Shannacappo said she is grateful for the help that she has received from her community.
“There’s a lot of necessities like toilet paper, potatoes, eggs and oatmeal. I think those are essential for daily life and it was actually really big help for my family,” said Shannacappo.
“Seeing all of the efforts that they did to make this happen, it’s humbling to know that they actually care about their members.”
According to Wilson, the band has 500 members living on-reserve and 600 members off-reserve. She acknowledges that the band tries to help everyone, but it can be difficult to help all reserve members as the band’s funding doesn’t always extend to the off-reserve members.
The band is set to have an election on April 23.
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