Back to school made easier for Saskatoon students
- EFN Staff | September 06, 2018
White Buffalo Youth Lodge was bustling with families lining up for backpacks and school supplies while the street was closed off for basketball games, bouncy castles, burgers, and entertainment. This was the fourth annual Nutrien Back to School Giveaway, organized by Saskatoon Tribal Council and supported by many community partners.
Leanne Bellegarde, Director of Strategic Inclusion at Nutrien, has had a vision of this happening for many years.
“This year $100, 000 was raised and that is contributing to the support of this and other programming and requirements at White Buffalo Youth Lodge. So, nothing goes to waste, it all touches the lives of children families and youth,” explained Bellegarde.
Tim Herrod, Vice President of Procurement at Nutrien, had just flown in and was excited about the turnout and community support. “I’m amazed. Translating a vision Leanne had many years ago and trying to get horsepower behind it, from what I do and my team does, working with our suppliers and trying to get suppliers embedded in this mission and vision...in everything that we do, to see this progress, it’s exploding,” said Herrod. “We have leadership from our mines, from the top down across our company...in terms of having impact on education and young people’s lives and Aboriginal youth development this is the best thing we could do - and we do a lot of good things.”
“I really feel strongly that in terms of the impact of children going to school, and giving them a start that they might not have had, watching all of the supply base come along with us and in some way contribute, it’s amazing,” added Herrod. “I’m just proud.”
Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand noted that STC is not keeping any resources, every dollar goes back to the community.
“I’m really thankful and grateful for all of our partners, especially Nutrien because they brought along their entire supply chain to establish all of this and make a difference to all our people’s lives...so all of these kids can go to school each and every day and all feel that they have the proper tools to be educated,” said Arcand. “Young mothers and young fathers are coming through here with multiple young children, and we’re saving them resources for other things - transportation, food, shelter, whatever it is they also need to get their kids to school.”
He also added that the experience is open to anyone, not just members of the STC.
“Every kid going through here gets to pick off the shelves what they want, just like shopping. We don’t want to judge people, we just want to provide for people. Next year we want to do 2000 backpacks.”
Dean Santamaria of West Virginia was thrilled to be a part of it.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I’m from the States, our company GMS Pioneer Conveyer has been in the US for 35 years, we provide labour to the underground mining industry. We’ve had an office here in Saskatoon for the past year and became a legacy partner with the STC. We’re part of this initiative which is something we really believe in. It’s moving and it’s timely, this is something that needs to be done. Morally, ethically, professionally.”
“To not only donate money but to be there in the line and see the families come in, the amount of people here speaks to the impact this group has in the community, it’s just a beautiful thing. You see smiles,” added Santamaria. “It’s uplifting.”
Happy customers Naomi, Keonna, and Mason Anaskan proudly showed off their contents.
“Just heard about it through my friend, they told us about it and we just showed up,” said mother Naomi, adding that she loved the whole thing. “It’s pretty awesome to get school supplies this way. We just moved here from Yorkton, so far we really like Saskatoon.”
She said the kids really enjoyed picking their own supplies out this way, while having a fun day out.
Keonna, who is going into Grade One this fall, proudly showed off items from her backpack.
“I love these pencil crayons,” Keonna said, brandishing a pack of Crayolas.
Her little brother Mason, going into Kindergarten and not to be outdone, said, “Look at this pencil sharpener, and these new pens!”