Back-to-class backpack drive aids area First Nations schoolkids

·2 min read

Bridging the gap between school and home, backpacks are a necessity for students through the school year.

That’s why the London and District Labour Council is teaming with the London Thames Valley Education Foundation (TVEF), Salvation Army and United Way Middlesex Elgin for its annual Best First Day drive. The initiative provides low-income students with supplies they need to return to class next month.

This year, the goal is to fill 415 backpacks for elementary and secondary schoolers in three First Nations communities: Oneida Nations of the Thames, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation and Munsee-Delaware Nation.

The drive also providing back-to-school supplies from markers and pencils to water bottles and calculators.

“In the past, these communities have been missed,” said United Way’s Dani Bartlett. “These kids haven’t been given the same attention that the kids in the Thames Valley District school board have had. It’s important to make sure all kids in our community are supported.”

At Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, just southwest of London, backpacks will be distributed to students at the annual back-to-school barbecue in early September, said Coby Smith, the band's education administrative assistant.

"I know that our families and our teachers, and our staff here all appreciate it," Smith said. "The kids are really happy because they get a new backpack with all the new supplies. At the barbecue, there's always a lot of happy, smiley faces."

Many of the young recipients are in kindergarten to Grade 8 at Antler River elementary school, Smith said.

For drive details, contact Dani Bartlett at DBartlett@unitedwayem.ca. To donate, visit unitedwayem.ca/best-first-day/.

cleon@postmedfia.com

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

What: School supply donation drop-off for Best First Day drive to provide 415 backpacks and school supplies for three London-area Indigenous communities

When: Monday, Aug. 30, 4-6 p.m.

WHERE: Thames Valley District school board Education Centre, 1250 Dundas St.

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press

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