Welcome to the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre

Loving Spoonful's Exective Director Mara Shaw
has made a resolution to do a volunteer stint at each
of the local food providers that help ensure food is available
to those in need.  In December 2012 she volunteered at
the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre and submits this report. 

 

 

Aanii, Sago, Kwe-Kwe, Boozhoo

 

Expect a warm welcome (Aanii, Sago, Kwe-Kwe, Boozhoo) at the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre.  Not only do Aboriginal cultures thrive there, but peoples "of any nation" are welcome to learn about and celebrate Native cultures.  It's also a place where families are supported on a day-to-day at a more mundane level through individual support, playgroups, parenting groups, drum circles, teaching circles, support groups, potlucks, craft groups, and simply to socialize over a shared meal.  Providing nutritious meals throughout the week is an important part of what is offered at KNFC. Volunteers are welcome, which was great for us as we joined in their Christmas party.

This story starts many years ago, but let's start it with many deliveries of fresh surplus food by Loving Spoonful to the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre.  KNFC dynamo ACAP-C Program Director, Cathy Seguin, explains, "I used to spend about 50% of my budget on food, but in 2012 I spent closer to 90%.  Some of our people are simply hungry."  The food Loving Spoonful and others in community delivers isn't just a "feel-good thing"; it's needed so Cathy and others at the Centre can continue to meet the growing needs of the community without cutting other components of the programs they are working to deliver.

Enter April Cyr, an employee at The Lazy Scholar, a Queen's Hospitality Services restaurant.  She suggested to me that we create a way for Queen's Hospitality employees to donate their Christmas turkeys and hams if they would like to. Queen's made it happen and Loving Spoonful was happy to deliver them to agencies across Kingston before Christmas.  Some of the turkeys and hams went to the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre's ACAP-C’s Christmas party, as did my daughter and I.  The room there was packed with families, surrounded by striking murals of Native art. At each dining chair sat a teddy bear for the kids to adopt.  The smells of baking squash, potatoes and meat from the kitchen were as inviting as the laughter as we all joined in (for better or for worse) in a sing-along of Christmas carols. The turkeys and hams were door prizes that were met with cheers as the winners were announced. Other turkeys were given specifically to caring families in need.  Santa capped off the event which kids met with the classic mixture of elation and hesitation.

Cathy Seguin and her co-workers and volunteers put on two mega-parties to capture all of the families they serve. Serving a population of over 6,000 who identify as Aboriginal in the Kingston area, there's always lots of activity at the Centre. Their doors are always open to welcome everyone and, as my daughter and I helped cleanup with the dedicated volunteers and staff, we felt right at home -- and looking forward to more opportunities to integrate our cultures.

Hopefully we'll have a program in 2013 that connects Kingston's Community Garden Network (that Loving Spoonful facilitates) and programming at the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre -- so we can all work together in the garden, celebrating the most universal aspect of culture -- fresh food.

 

Footnote
Since 1999, the Foundation has provided over $23,550 in grants to the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre, and $11,500 to Loving Spoonful for a variety of projects from our Community Grants.  We also have several endowments that provide support to local food providers, for example  Regina Rosen's Food First Fund.  Please send an email to foundation@cfka.org or call 613 546 9696 to find out more about these organizations or how you can contribute to them.