Warm feeling

Sweet North Bakery owner Erinn Delorenzi, Keewaytinook Internet High School (KIHS) teacher Cathy Rodger, principal Angela Batsford-Mermans and former student and now classroom assistant Jenna Williamson join Emily Shandruk, Mikinakoos Children’s Fund executive director, as they celebrate the success of the Coffee for Coats campaign last week.

Mikinakoos Children’s Fund received a nearly $6,000 start on its campaign to buy winter clothing for 350 students in remote northern communities from a Thunder Bay business.

Through three fundraisers this year, the Sweet North Bakery raised more than $5,800 towards Mikinakoos’s goal of $25,000 to provide the students of Keewaytinook Internet High School (KIHS) with warm winter gear. The online high school allows students to take courses toward their high school diploma without having to leave their home communities.

Many of the school’s programs are land-based and the school wants to make sure every student has warm enough clothing to participate in all the programs.

KIHS principal Angela Batsford-Mermans said the school is committed to establishing a holistic program.

“The staff at KiHS work together to develop programming that values the mental, spiritual, physical and emotional aspects of self,” she said in a news release. “This programming is delivered through land, culture, language, and wellness teachings that lead to academic success.”

Access to warm clothing is limited in the fly-in communities and having clothing to protect students from cold weather is essential for their full participation, said Batsford-Mermans.

“No students should be faced with a barrier to education, whether it occurs inside or outside of the physical classroom,” she said.

Fort William First Nation classroom teacher Cathy Rodger said an example of an outdoor activity is students going snowshoeing to view pictographs.

“The trek to find these beautiful pictographs takes about a half an hour from the Fort William classroom,” she said. “They can only be accessed during the winter months because they are located on a cliff on the lake. Our students typically do not have adequate winter clothing. We scramble to collect winter gear so that all students will be able to participate in this activity.”

Students also set nets for ice fishing, learn track identification and set snares in the winter months.

Mikinakoos Children’s Fund is hoping to achieve its $25,000 goal by Nov. 30, Giving Tuesday.

As of Tuesday afternoon, $8,000 had been raised.

Donations can be made online at www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/mikinakoos-childrens-fund/campaign/givingtuesdaymikinakoos2021.