The need to contribute and give back-harvest time in Thunderchild
- EFN Staff | October 25, 2019
When the Crown employee’s went on strike October 5th, one worker took advantage of his vacation hours to go back to his home community and help during harvest time.
“I knew there were over 5,000 employees about to go on strike and this is part of the decision that made me want to go home,” said Mark Thunderchild, an employee with SaskEnergy. “The had their soldiers. I wanted to go home to do something.”
Thunderchild felt the need to contribute and give back to his home community of Thunderchild First Nation so he reached out to a band councillor to ask if there was any work needed in the community. Fortunately, it was harvest time so the help was definitely needed.
“I figured I’d take vacation and go out there to work help my community,” he said. “I had no idea what the farm had looked like, I just learned that it existed, but it’s been around for a couple of years.”
Thunderchild had no previous farm experience. When he got there, he was greeted with a group of band members who are part of the farming project and an outside instructor who taught them how to harvest their crops.
In a day, Thunderchild had learned how to drive a combine, use grain carts and do maintenance on the machines.
“I was blown away. Everything was top of the line. Very good equipment. It was very inspiring,” he said. “I haven’t been home in many years to see the progress and the operation they had. It was very uplifting.”
The Thunderchild farming project consists of over 9,000 acres with everything from oats, wheat and barley. The project is on its third year of running. The Thunderchild First Nation had all the land previously but it was leased it out. According to Thunderchild, the community decided to take their land back as an opportunity to generate revenue, introduce agriculture to their band membership and also create employment opportunities.
“We 9-10 days straight with 15 to 16 hours a day and we worked from 20% to close to 80%. We were crushing 2-3 fields a day,” he said. “
Weeks later, Thunderchild got the call the strike was over so he had to return back to Regina for work, but he left with skills and an unforgettable experience.
“It was kind of sad to leave before finishing the project. I felt like I contributed to my home which I haven’t been able to do throughout my adult life,” he said.
This experience has taught Thunderchild appreciation and reinforced the love he has for his home community, It is something he is looking forward to doing again next year.
“I want to go back to visit my family that I haven’t seen in a long time and to give back to my community,” he said. “I was impressed with the community support on the farm. I'm proud of my community for taking on [the business venture] which is why I’m happy to give my time in making it successful.”