Five-year-old Nahanni Cole and 10-year-old sister Lillian are planning to fill their Gordon Head garage with shoeboxes full of quality gifts and toys for Indigenous children in remote B.C. communities. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Victoria’s booming shoebox campaign part of ‘reconciliaction’

Family challenges Victoria to fill their garage with 1,000 shoeboxes for indigenous youth

A Gordon Head family’s goal of filling their garage with 1,000 shoeboxes for Indigenous youth in remote locations is catching on.

Lynn Cole, mother of Lillian, 10, and Nahanni, 5, has started the Victoria chapter of the I Love First Peoples national movement. At the centre of the movement is the creation of a shoebox, or shoebox-sized tote, filled with quality toys and gifts and $5 towards shipping fees. The campaign runs this fall with a schedule to deliver the goods in the spring to the Gitsegukla and Kitwanga First Nations communities (north of Smithers) and hopefully more.

“The goal is that all of the children in the communities get a shoebox,” said Cole, who only started the Victoria chapter of ILFP on Oct. 29. “It lets the children know someone else out there cares about them.”

In addition to toys and gifts the box also has a letter (could be a page of art for the younger donors) of support and encouragement.

Cole, who is of Métis heritage, was told the ILFP had just a few chapters last year but is now a national movement with 31 and growing.

“It’s growing fast, people shared one of our Facebook posts 111 times already. [Nationally] it was only 25 chapters last week.”

Her daughters can take pride in filling the first shoebox for Victoria ILFP but also for spearheading the movement at their school, Campus View elementary. Lillian credits her Grade 5 teacher Mme. Françoise Roux for helping her and her classmates challenge the students at the rest of the school.

Sir James Douglas is also on board through its active Me 2 We club, said Cole, whose hoping other schools will come aboard.

The shoebox campaign is part of the ‘reconciliaction’ movement born out of the 2015 TRC report and recommendations.

I Love First People’s mandate is to empower education with Indigenous youth. Ideally, a donating child starts a box and adds the kind of toys and gifts you’d pass to a loved one, not a dollar store purchase or something that’s going to break, Cole said. Children then add in $5 to cover shipping costs, and a personalized letter.

Quality gifts that make a child or youth happy could include finger paint, modelling clay, colouring book, stickers, ball cap, gloves, fun socks, sunglasses, jewelry, hair accessories, stuffed animal, puzzle, nerf ball, whistle, compass, glow in the dark decal, seed starter kit, flashlight, tambourine, harmonica, flute, small hand drum, sketch pad, gel pens, sharpies, journal, etc.

ILFP.ca has printable instructions and the boxes can be designed for age categories 3 to 5, 6 to 8, 9 to 12, and 13 to 16. They are both gender specific, male or female, or can be non-gender specific.

“They’ll be delivered in a day of celebration, followed up with an awards and merits program in their school,” Cole said. “ILFP has a conversation in the community to ask, how can we help and support you with education.”

Locally, all five FrontRunners stores are drop off locations for the shoeboxes, as well as Power To Be’s Fort Street office, and the Owl Designer Fair Dec. 1 and 2.

Interested parties can visit www.ilovefirstpeoples.ca/shoebox-gifts or email Cole at victoria.ilfp@gmail.com.

reporter@saanichnews.com

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