Nanaimo volunteers deliver Indigenous soul food to residential school survivors

Nanaimo volunteers deliver Indigenous soul food to residential school survivors
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WatchNuu'chah'nulth volunteers delivered hampers of traditional Indigenous food on Thursday to remind survivors they are loved ahead of Truth and Reconciliation Day. Skye Ryan has more.

Stan Matthew knocked on the door of a residential school survivor in Nanaimo Thursday with a smile, knowing what he’d brought would mean so much to the person inside.

“Hey hey, we have something for you,” said Stan Matthew to 73-year-old survivor George Peter.

Matthew was one of a team of grassroots volunteers from Nuu-chah-nulth, delivering hampers of traditional Indigenous food to survivors across the city Thursday.

All thanks to the sales of orange shirt pins and earrings made by Nuu-chah-nulth designer Copper Canoe Woman, which raised enough funds to fill 100 bags with salmon, bannock, and veggies.

“Potatoes, onions, a little package to make fry bread or bannock. Oh yes,” exclaimed Matthew.

“It’s a really good feeling inside,” said Peter, who hails from Alert Bay and attended Christie Residential School.

“It’s incredible,” said Allana Titian, who originally hails from Ahousaht and attended Christie Residential School.

“It’s really heartwarming. My parents went to residential school,” said Matthew.

According to volunteers, the gift of the traditional food is just as much about filling spirits as it is about filling bellies ahead of Truth and Reconciliation Day.

“It’s hard, it’s really triggering and we just wanted them to know that we love them and that we’re grateful they survived so that we could be here,” said Vina Brown, owner and designer of Copper Canoe Woman.

“To nourish their body, but mostly to nourish their heart. And know that we do care about them,” said Matthew.

Sara Norris, 19, of the Nanoose First Nation said she jumped at the chance to help fill hampers.

“Because I have a lot of family that’s been in residential school. My father was in residential school for a little bit along with my grandfather, his Dad, so it really means a lot to me to be able to do this for survivors,” said Norris.

Comforting survivors with soul food and kindness, as they prepared to face a hard day ahead.

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Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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