Thousands of students gathered ahead of the start of classes to receive free backpacks at Saskatoon’s White Buffalo Youth Lodge on Thursday.
It was part of the fifth annual Nutrien Backpack Giveaway.
“It’s aimed to get kids the necessary school supplies … it’s offering a support that a lot of families here within the community of Saskatoon … they need,” Jolon Lafond, director of White Buffalo Youth Lodge, said.
“It helps them set up for the new year … you really want them to feel that they’re ready, they’re prepared and they’re supported in their efforts in going to school.”
He added they had 2,500 backpacks and school supplies ready to go on Thursday.
Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) Chief Mark Arcand said they wanted to give back so students can be productive in school.
“Imagine that young kid that’s going to school every day that you know teacher tells you ‘pull out your pens’ and you don’t have one. How’s that make you feel? Well now they don’t have to feel like that, they feel empowered, they feel like they’re one of the other kids and for us, that’s all that matters,” Arcand said.
“It’s less of a burden on families that may not be able to afford a backpack and we don’t judge anybody by saying ‘how much do you make? What’s your income?’ We don’t care. It’s about giving back to the people and making sure that they can have a quality of life, starting out with education.”
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Kids and their families were also treated to STC’s annual back-to-school carnival at the event.
“It’s fantastic, because at the end of the day, when you look outside we have a carnival day that has everything from elders to free lunch to anything that the child needs and I think we can still do a better job,” Arcand said.
“When you look at the community impact, it’s being inclusive and being diverse and that’s what we like about it at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge.”
Saskatoon-based fertilizer company Nutrien was a sponsor for the event.