More than 120 totes full of donations take off from Tilbury to northern reserve Neskantaga

It took a long chain of students, a charitable organization and a giving community, but more than 100 totes full of supplies destined for a remote First Nation reserve are finally on their way.


Tilbury, Ont. school overwhelmed with donations for northern reserve Neskantaga

What started as a simple call for feminine hygiene products at St. Francis Catholic School in Tilbury, led to an avalanche of donations that eventually filled more than 120 boxes with food, clothing and toys.

"The community in Tilbury was so generous we ended up collecting a multitude of items from flour to … boots, coats and shoes," explained Monique Castonguay, education lead for First Nation, Metis, Inuit students at the Providence Catholic School Board.

The goods will be carried to Neskantaga, a fly-in community in the James Bay lowlands — about 450 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

Residents there have been under a boil water advisory for more than two decades and getting basic supplies including hygiene products is a constant struggle that comes with high costs.

Staff and students at St. Francis launched a Project Heart Campaign to gather donations and help their northern neighbours.

Transporting so many items to such a remote community will comes with a price tag of about $3,000, but a group called Honouring Indigenous People has agreed to cover the cost.

On Thursday students formed a long line and passed the plastic totes through their school and into the back of a waiting transport truck for the first leg of the journey.

"It felt amazing," said Castonguay. "It was really good to see the truck leaving, honking its horn while students were waving goodbye."