Oftentimes, it’s the little things in life that bring people the most joy.
This is especially true for the Kanehsata’kehró:non living at the Riverside Elders Home, who recently saw their dining room revamped with brand new chairs and tables.
“When they came in and saw everything, right away they felt it was more homey and welcoming,” recounted Sandra Harding. “One of them said ‘I feel like I’m eating in a fancy restaurant,’ and another one said they should have dressed up better for the occasion.”
With the previous furniture being over two decades old, the elders’ communal room was in sincere need of improvement.
It’s this sentiment that was shared with the community-based fundraising committee of Chase the Ace when it offered to donate funds towards the Kanesatake seniors’ residence.
“The funds were originally supposed to be for language, culture and sports. But then we heard from Sandra (Harding) that the elders needed new furniture, so we jumped on the idea,” explained committee member Jeff Nelson.
When Chase the Ace was created several years ago, it was done with the intention of raising the money needed to send local youth to compete in the North American Indigenous Games.
“We realized it was such a great success that we decided to keep it going,” said Nelson.
Since then, the committee has been focused on generating donations to support the development of cultural preservation programs and recreational initiatives.
As a grassroots organization grounded in giving back to the community, Nelson expressed that this latest contribution was perfectly aligned with the group’s vision.
“Our elders are part of our language and culture, so it was always part of the plan to continue to raise funds and hopefully do more for them,” said the Kanehsata’kehró:non.
When COVID-19 took over most of the world in March 2020, the activities typically financed by Chase the Ace were quickly forced to take a back seat. The stalling of initiatives, combined with the increasingly busy schedule of volunteers, brought the committee’s projects to a swift pause.
Over the course of the summer, the team was able to assemble again and tackle new projects while using the approximate $120,000 it had collected prior to the pandemic.
Along with the $12,000 used towards purchasing the dining room furniture, the committee also financed the restoration of the community’s baseball field and the installment of a paved walkway to the gazebo at Riverside.
“The gazebo was already there, but there was no walkway to it, which meant the elders weren’t able to actually use it,” explained Nelson.
While local initiatives continue to require funding, Kanehsata’kehró:non can look forward to Chase the Ace resuming its activities in the next month.
In the meantime, Harding underlined that, like having a paved path outdoors, it was important that the furniture used by residents be adapted to their needs.
“The tables we had before had legs on each corner, so people with wheelchairs couldn’t get close enough to the table,” she explained. “It was important to make sure that they would be comfortable.”
Aside from comfort, the elders were pleased to see their space receive a much-needed makeover.
“I was so surprised and happy to see the beautiful new tables,” said one resident, Christina Montour.
“It must have cost a lot of money! But it makes our room look very nice,” said Riverside’s Leo Lamouche, adding how kind he thought it was of the community to think about them.
These feelings were shared by many more, including Yvonne Cree and Jane Etienne, who can both now easily sit at the table using their wheelchairs.
“Everyone is just so grateful,” said Harding. “It really is about the little things for those people who stay here. After all, this is their home.”
Laurence Brisson Dubreuil, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door