One-woman army starts a support group, offers weekly deliveries to Mattagami, Gogama

·3 min read

A Timmins resident has started a group that promotes wellbeing and offers free delivery services to Gogama and Mattagami First Nation.

Tianna Mckay-Golinowski, who’s from Mattagami First Nation, runs the TBD Support Group on Facebook.

Her goal is to provide assistance to other people and offer any services or support within her own means. It’s also a way to bring essential items to Mattagami community members who are elders or don’t have transportation.

“I’ve always had the drive to help others any way that I can,” she said. “It was like, 'How can I help myself but also help others like I always have been.'”

She describes herself as a one-woman army who is solely in charge of accepting orders, going shopping and making deliveries every week.

Community members send her money for their orders and deliveries are free.

“The life is very different. There are a lot of challenges that are still present today. And now with COVID, there are a lot of alarming issues happening within the community pertaining to mental health, drug use, alcohol abuse,” she said.

When the pandemic started last year, she was struggling with health issues and was feeling isolated, which eventually led her to start the group. It was inactive for a few months until she revived it in January.

There are currently over 240 members in the group. It was initially open for Mattagami off- and on-reserve members but everyone is welcome to join now.

Since Mckay-Golinowski can’t enter the community because only essential workers or on-reserve members are allowed in, she provides an honorarium to a designated person to make deliveries within the community or people meet her at the gate to pick the orders up.

Some of the most common items that she delivers include mail, toilet paper, Lysol wipes, paper rolls, groceries and sometimes Tim Hortons coffee.

Mckay-Golinowski said she tries to be as accommodating as possible asking people whether there’s a specific brand they like or what type of milk they drink.

On Feb. 3, she picked up mail for six people and did essential shopping for 10 people. The week before, she delivered to 10 people and had mail for two people.

Her biggest trip included 20 deliveries between Mattagami, Gogama and Timmins in one day.

From April to June 2020, she made six deliveries, and another delivery from Timmins to Cochrane.

Mckay-Golinowski said she has never cancelled deliveries because of road conditions or unpredictable weather. However, if the circumstances change, she will make a post to let people know in advance.

Since not everybody has Facebook, she said once she develops the calendar, a notice informing Gogama and Mattagami residents of her services will be circulated within the communities.

Mattagami First Nation provided her two honorariums to make deliveries from Timmins to Mattagami.

“We’re still working out logistics of other things. It takes time, everything is virtual. Everybody is very busy,” she said. “They weren’t receptive to this support group last year. Whereas now, they’re seeing that this is a complimentary service.”

Mckay-Golinowski also picks up mail from Gogama and delivers it to Mattagami members.

“I do everything in Timmins, travel to Gogama, pick up mail, do deliveries there, go to Mattagami at the gate,” she said. “I wait there in the vehicle until everybody comes to get their stuff.”

Having volunteers and support as well as setting some time aside for self-care is crucial in running this type of volunteer-based initiative, she said.

“At the end of the day, there are some things you can never prepare for. There are always going to be things that happen that you have to roll with the punches,” she said.

“It’s important to take time for yourself to ground and reflect every day. As much as you want to give, give, give, you always want to make sure you’re giving that time and commitment to yourself.”

Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,