New support group supports its community
- Michelle Lerat | May 23, 2020
Members of Men of the North, a newly formed support group in LaRonge, are doing what they can to help out their community during the pandemic.
“Since the COVID situation our focus has kind of shifted from helping the men in the community to the men helping our community,” said founder Christopher Merasty.
When the pandemic forced social isolation, the group wanted to help the kids.
They applied to Cameco’s COVID-19 assistance fund and were granted $5,000
Last week the Men of the North delivered $5,000 worth of recreational activities to the youth of La Ronge and surrounding area.
“We did some shopping supporting local companies in town, said Merasty.
“We went and [bought] outdoor recreational activities like horseshoes, bean bag toss, long bowling, water guns, water balloons, side walk chalk, skipping rope, basketballs. We got a bunch of recreational activities for the kids and even board games that can bring the family together [including] puzzles and art supplies.”
Members of the group distributed the supplies amongst five schools in and around La Ronge and the schools dispersed them to students. Men of the North also donated recreational supplies to a women’s shelter and Big Stone Community center.
“We are very grateful for them thinking of our students the way they did,” said Rachel Deschambeault, vice president of Bells Point Elementary School. “I’m sure they made a lot of kids happy.”
The school added the donated recreational items to packages that are part of their bi-weekly delivery to students, Deschambeault said.
“The [students] were quite excited,” she said.
Merasty says the Men of the North have also held draws for a new mountain bike. Last week youth could enter the draw by cleaning up. This week they are holding a good deed draw. Every good deed earns youth an entry into the draw, which will be held May 23.
Meratsty started the volunteer outreach program in January when he noticed there were groups to help women but few that were especially for men so he started on that is open to men of all ages.
The group’s mission is to promote healthy life choices, encourage recovery and promote rehabilitation. Members met to talk and do healthy activities like going fishing.
“It's about opening up doors and making a connection. About building trust, understanding, respect, leadership,” Merasty said.
Members have been busy volunteering to help the community during the pandemic. Merasty says a lot of people have reached out with offers of help. The Men of the North have been delivering food hampers, groceries, prescriptions and assisting elders. The group has also recently been holding their meetings through zoom.
“A lot of guys commented after the meeting ‘wow’, ‘awesome job’, ‘good meeting this is what we needed to recharge the batteries,’” said Merasty. “Since this COVID came into Canada we had to postpone and put everything on hold, now we’re adapting and getting back into the meetings through zoom.”
Men of the North has already attracted positive attention and has been contacted by many communities interested in working with them.
“One of the elders said [we’re] bringing back our warriors,” said Merasty. “Once we get a good solid foundation of bringing back our warriors in the community, we would like to start working with the women in the community then start working with the youth.”