Halloween help in Kanesatake is no trick

Parents spooked about the cost of a Halloween costume are in for a timely treat.

The Kanesatake Health Center (KHC)’s child and family services program (CFS) is offering up to a $50 reimbursement for a costume for every Kanehsata’kehró:non under 18 years old, not to mention springing for professional face painting at Rotiwennakéhte elementary school on Halloween day.

“We get one time of year where we get to dress however we want,” said Jadyn Nicholas Lauder, child and youth program coordinator at KHC. “I think it’s a confidence booster and a way for everyone to come together.”

It’s not only children who treasure Halloween, of course - Lauder herself revelled in dressing up as The Undertaker to her sister’s Hulk Hogan last year - but children are particularly vulnerable to feeling left out if they cannot afford a costume.

It was this worry that inspired the health centre to seek funding for the initiative under Jordan’s Principle, especially at a time when out-of-control prices are tightening the belts of everyday Kanehsata’kehró:non.

Jordan’s Principle targets the unmet needs of First Nations children and can take the form of a wide range of supports. It is named after Jordan River Anderson of Norway House Cree Nation, a child who died in hospital as Canada and Manitoba fought about which government was responsible to pay for his care.

“We just wanted to make sure, following off Every Child Matters, that every child can go out for Halloween without having to worry about not having a costume or being prepared,” said Katsitsaronkwas Jacobs, who is KHC’s Jordan’s Principle coordinator.

Jacobs was thinking about economic disparities between children and how this could impact their mental health when she submitted the $11,000 request on behalf of CFS, all of which was granted.

“If you just say, you know, a child needs a costume, then why do they need a costume? Why is it so important?” she said of the request. “And it just lets the kids be kids.”

Those seeking the subsidy must do so by November 14 at 4 p.m. An original receipt is required, and the costume must have been purchased between September 1 and October 31, 2022. However, the person seeking the reimbursement need not be the child’s parent - the primary caveat is that there is only one subsidy available per child.

Jacobs emphasizes that there are many kinds of expenses Jordan’s Principle can cover outside of this initiative. In her case, prior to starting her job, she succeeded in having her child’s braces paid for.

“It doesn’t matter what you think, whether you think you’re going to get denied or not, just come in and we’ll talk about it,” she said. “We apply for everything and we don’t turn anybody away.”

The costume subsidy is welcome news for local parents.

“I think this is a great initiative. Nowadays, with the inflation and cost of basic necessities, it’s hard for parents to afford costumes, especially if you have multiple children,” said Ami-Lee Hannaburg, who has two kids at the elementary school.

“As a parent, you want your children to be able to experience being a child and all the magical fun that comes with this age before they grow up, but the means are not always possible,” she said.

She believes the assistance has not only eased the burden on cash-strapped parents but that it ensures community children will get to have a little bit extra this year.

“I love spooky season and can’t wait to see all the kiddos dressed up!” Hannaburg said.

gmbankuti@gmail.com

Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door