SYDNEY — Some say the reason for the season is giving, but Craig Christmas is mainly happy his community hunt's moose meat will be put to good use.
He is among the hunters from Membertou First Nation who made a donation of moose meat and clothing to the Jane Paul Indigenous Women's Resource Centre (JPC) in Sydney on Friday.
The JPC is a not-for-profit organization that assists Indigenous women living off reserve, many of whom face challenges such as homelessness, violence, and poverty.
Christmas, a Membertou band councillor and community hunter usually distributes the season's harvest to families living in the community in Membertou but says this year, after a very successful hunt by the community, he wanted to reach out to the unhoused Mi'kmaq in Sydney to donate.
"We do the community moose harvest every year," he said. "Membertou's community hunters harvested at least 12 moose this year, and we pass it out to the community. We had some extra meat this year, so I got a hold of Terri-Anne Johnson from Membertou, who works at the Jane Paul Centre, and we asked if we could bring the facility some moose meat, and they accepted it with open arms."
"MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE"
Terri-Anne Johnson, a staff member at the Jane Paul Centre, emphasized the importance of such contributions, saying the donation is not only about meeting basic needs but also about maintaining a cultural connection.
"Everything, they mean everything. We're a non-profit, and most of our clients are on the streets, and donations like this makes all the difference, especially around Christmas time," Johnson said. "They're always looking for food, and when they leave their community, this is one of the things they're not getting here. The cultural part of it. Traditional foods."
Lisa Carr, the director of the JPC, is glad to receive the donation. She says the moose meat will go toward providing hot meals at the centre and beyond.
"This was something we really needed; we have childcare, a clothing bank, we have housing workers and even a cultural support worker who does cultural workshops, but this is something that was missing; now they can eat culturally significant food too," said Carr. "Some of it we will use for their hot meal, we serve hot meals five days a week here, and some of it will go home for the ones who are not homeless to use."
SPIRIT OF THE SEASON
Paul Gould, another community hunter involved in the donation, says Membertou made the moose meat donation in the spirit of the season of giving.
"It's good to give back, especially around Christmas time," said Gould. "The season is all about giving, and that's a big part of today; giving to these women, keeping them fed; we donated some clothing too, today, to help keep everybody warm."
Mitchell Ferguson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post