July 2, 2021

Hope in a Bag of Berries

Properly referred to as indigenous or aboriginal, Inuit are part of the First Peoples of Canada and are among the most culturally resilient in North America.   

Many Inuit face persisting social and economic hardship. Many families struggle to meet their basic needs in safety, housing, and getting enough food to eat. The history of colonization among the Inuit has left a legacy of trauma and violence.    

“Many have lost complete hope up here. Depression is an epidemic. People need the love of Jesus,” Jose Quezada, lay preacher for Igloolik, Nunavut, said.

Thanks to support from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Jose and his team were able to provide hope in the form of antibacterial handwashing soap and frozen berries, a prized food commodity in northern communities. ADRA also twice distributed C$100 (about US$81) food vouchers to 50 of the most vulnerable families in Igloolik, redeemable for groceries at the local Co-op store.   

Evelyn* and her family were among the 153 families who received the three packages of frozen berries and two bottles of soft soap. They were one of 50 families to receive C$100 food vouchers, in addition to the new jacket she received from ADRA previously.  She said, “I am very happy that ADRA has given us food so that I could feed my baby and my family during this time of need, and I am glad to hear that they will continue helping us.” 

In the city of Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital, Melvin Bartley, transplanted from Maskwacis, Alberta, is Iqaluit Seventh-day Adventist Group’s first official pastor since its beginning in 2008. Arriving in February 2020, Melvin (as he’s known locally) witnessed the pandemic’s effect on the north. Bartley and his team of twenty volunteers wasted no time. They used ADRA in Canada’s financial support to help more than 1,000 unemployed people and seniors. They coordinated their efforts with the local food center, community kitchen, and local Elder’s Residence. They also partnered with the Embrace Life Council, responsible for training and suicide prevention in the community. 

As a result of ADRA’s support and volunteer efforts, three times between May and August 2020, the distribution of cereal, milk, oil, rice, flour, frozen and fresh mixed vegetables, and other essentials helped seniors and families in Iqaluit. Puzzles and sewing materials were also purchased to help with isolation due to mandated stay-at-home orders.

Bartley shared that “appreciation was [noted] of not only the food, but also of a face-to-face visit, and positive surprise [for] the kind gesture of those not fully acquainted [with ADRA].” 

ADRA Canada’s Canadian Emergency Program is committed to assisting First Nations and Inuit communities in increasing food security, promoting health, wellness, and youth engagement by partnering with local indigenous communities and First Nations and Inuit leadership. 

The original version of this story was posted by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Canada.

*Name changed to protect privacy.