Metis council gives out Easter food baskets to connect community

By Ken Kellar
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
kkellar@fortfrances.com

The Sunset Country Metis community council has been taking steps to ensure its members stay connected and looked after during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Their most recent effort took place on Friday, March 26 at the community centre. From 2:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., pre-registered members were able to pick up a free Take and Make Easter Food Basket bursting at the seams with local groceries. Sunset Country Metis council members were onsite to help ensure everyone who had registered for a basket received one, with council president Brady Hupet and councillor Karen Chowhan explaining that the distribution was in part a COVID-safe replacement for another annual event.

“Normally the Community tries to come together by a Traditional Feast a few times a year where we celebrate our Metis culture and Heritage,” Hupet said.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic we have not been able to, and as president I know our Metis community and region are hurting financially and spiritually. Our council decided if the community can not come to us, we would come to them. This was a community council effort to give our community a gift on our behalf to help out with our children and families.”

The baskets contained a veritable smorgasbord of grocery items, including a ham, potatoes and wild rice. As part of the efforts to help the Metis community, Chowhan noted that the council also reached out to local individuals and businesses when it came to securing the food that would be included in order to help the larger community at the same time.

“Everybody on council has input as far as ‘who can we resource to find local foods?” Chowhan said.

“[Councillor] Wade Nelson found out he has a friend who lives in the west end of the community who sourced the hams, and our senator John [George] did the rice, and Anne-Marie Armstrong is used to doing the healthy food boxes through the access centre, so she was familiar with where they get their potatoes locally, Gerber’s. We also got gift cards for The Place and Cloverleaf in Emo.”

The food baskets are only the latest effort made by the Sunset Country Metis community council to look after the members of their community. Hupet said the council members will continue to do what they can to help their community weather the difficulties of the pandemic.

“I feel as president, if it is possible to help our citizens in this difficult time in our history, we must do what we can,” he said.

“Our Council is very proactive and will continue to offer food and other aid to the citizens as long as the pandemic is here. Hopefully soon when everyone has been vaccinated things will begin to get back to what can be considered normal in our lives again.”

Until then, the council remains engaged and active in looking out for their community, and Hupet encouraged Metis members to take part and also to keep their eyes on the calendar for another important event.

“I would also remind our citizens of the election and to make their vote count online and by phone in Sunset Country Metis Council’s upcoming election the week of April 19 till April 25,” Hupet said.

Members of the Sunset Country Metis Community Council took a quick photo break from distributing Easter food baskets on Friday afternoon. The free baskets were given out to Metis community members who pre-registered to receive one, and were filled with locally sourced produce, meat and a gift certificate. -Ken Kellar photo