Gayce Nickel

Gayce Nickel

Christmas give-away a win-win

First Nations people living in the Chilcotin are some of the poorest in B.C.

First Nations people living in the Chilcotin are some of the poorest in B.C.

“All you have to do is take a drive out to the Chilcotin to see how poor people are,” says Sarah Jackman, Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society executive director.

This Christmas many of the Chilcotin First Nations people living in poverty had a special treat from some not-so-secret Santas to make their Christmases a little brighter.

A beautiful collection of handmade wooden toys and other gifts arrived in Williams Lake early last week from several prisons around the Lower Mainland, where inmates have been working for several months to make the gifts especially for the Chilcotin people.

“We have tons!” said Jackman as the gifts were unloaded from the delivery truck early last week.

“Trucks and cars, trains, stuffed toys, rocking horses, rocking orcas, building blocks, little pull-along toys that are grasshoppers with moving legs! Very cool.”

The gifts also included hand-knitted blankets, hats, mittens, scarves and fabric teddy bears and sock monkeys.

Some of the extra special items in the collection included a raven rocking horse, orca rocking horse and Santa pinatas.

The majority of all the gifts were made by male inmates, including the sewn and knitted items, Jackman says.

More than 250 children, elders and family members were on the list to receive the gifts that were distributed on Friday afternoon at the Gibraltar Room following the annual general meeting of the Tsilhqot’in National Government and Punky Lake Wilderness Society.

The gifts were given away during the Punky Lake Wilderness Society’s annual Christmas open house  that included a big buffet lunch and entertainment with magician Jesaja Class.

“We had a full house,” Jackman says. “Every seat was filled.”

Jackman says the distribution of gifts was chosen by draw for the first 75 items, then the rest of the people could chose what they needed.

The donations are part of the Work to Give project in several federal prisons in the Fraser Valley and were transported to Williams Lake at no cost by T-Lane Transportation out of Mission.

Jackman, as well as Toosey Chief Francis Laceese and retired educator Joan Gentles, said the project is a win-win for low income First Nations people and for the inmates who gain valuable skills that they can take into the workplace after completing their prison sentences.

“I think there is a great opportunity for the nation and the people who make the toys to help each other,” Laceese said.

Anna Kalelest, who is a single mom with a disability raising two young boys on her own was thrilled with the gifts she received and chose for delivery to a friend who also lives on a low income.

She got a peg board game with numbers and letters on it that will be helpful in teaching her older son about writing and numbers.

She also got a beautiful wooden car that she and her younger son can have fun painting together.

“I think it is awesome,” Kalelest said of the Work to Give program.

Kalelest says it is difficult raising children on a disability pension and she was only recently able to find a nice basement suite in Williams Lake after living for a while in a motel and another unsuitable location.

Her new suite has two bedrooms in a quiet, safe location with laundry facilities and a fireplace. “I have great landlords,” Kalelest says.

Earlier this year the Work to Give program also provided items such as beds, picnic tables, desks, and bookshelves for First Nations people living in the Chilcotin.

Jackman says the society helps the project by encouraging donations of lumber, paint, yarn and fabric for the work.

“We are extremely non-profit,” says Jackman who visits the prison inmates in the program every few months and brings them pictures and videos showing how much their gifts are appreciated.

She says the inmates are equally happy to see the gifts they have made appreciated.

People who would like to donate to Work to Give project can call her at 250-267-2510.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Celebrate women in leadership, March 8, International Women’s Day 2021 (Unsplash)
EDITORIAL: International Women’s Day 2021 shines spotlight on achievements, ongoing inequities

COVID-19 increased gender-based violence, economic stress, the burden of care giving for women

Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021: Cleary Manning

Spreading positivity through music is one way Cleary Manning tries to make the community better

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)
MLA’s CORNER: Premier Horgan needs to work harder

There are lots of people out there who are in desperate need of assistance

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read