WIIKWEMKOONG – The masks might have hidden the wide grins, but broad smiles were evident, reaching well into the eyes, as Wiikwemkoong welcomed representatives of ADRA, the humanitarian agency of the Seventh-day Adventist Church whose work extends into more than 130 countries around the world as they celebrated the $20,000 invested into Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territories programs.
ADRA national program director Daniel Saugh explained that the funds were utilized for emergency food relief during the pandemic and to sponsor an outdoor youth leadership program.
“We love working with communities,” he said. “It was a tremendous privilege to be able to see the programs in action.”
He noted that $10,000 of the funding went to providing emergency food relief to over 800 families in Wiikwemkoong, while the other $10,000 helped keep the innovative Outdoor Adventure Leadership Experience (OALE) operating when it was in danger of being cancelled due to funding shortfalls.
“We were very happy ADRA was able to help out keep that amazing program going for 2020 and we hope to be able to keep that partnership going,” said Mr. Saugh.
OALE is an outdoor health promotion initiative primarily designed for youth. The program was developed through community-based participatory research in Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory. OALE is a 10-day intensive program involving a wilderness canoe expedition homeward through the traditional territory of Wiikwemkoong that has been previously covered in The Expositor.
Stephen Matthews, ADRA executive director, said that he was very pleased to be able to see the OALE program in action and that, although this was his first visit to Wiikwemkoong, he was certain it wouldn’t be his last. “I would like to bring my wife and family up to visit here, it is so beautiful,” he said.
Wiikwemkoong Ogimaa Duke Peltier said that he was very happy to accept the cheque on behalf of the Wiikwemkoong programs and delighted to welcome the ADRA representatives to the community. A CTV film crew was also onsite for the presentations as part of a documentary film on the organization’s work.