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Blackfoot culture becomes part of school meal planning in Fort Macleod, Alta.

Click to play video: 'Southern Alberta school pairs breakfast programs with Indigenous connections'
Southern Alberta school pairs breakfast programs with Indigenous connections
WATCH: Food insecurity is an ongoing issue for a lot of families and recent inflationary pressures aren't helping. The Toonies for Tummies campaign aims to alleviate youth hunger across Canada. Eloise Therien shows us what one southern Alberta school community is doing to not only feed its students, but also bring them connections and understanding through Indigenous partnerships – Mar 6, 2023

Many schools across the country work with the Breakfast Club of Canada, a Vancouver-based non-profit, to help feed their students.

In the town of Fort Macleod, Alta. ,one school has found a way to not only provide food like fruit, juice, cheese, and yoghurt to hungry mouths, but also to connect the largely-Indigenous student base with community leaders.

“The unique thing about here at F.P. Walshe is our larger First Nations, Metis and Inuit population and the ability to connect some of those opportunities with our elders and the school and the students,” explained associate superintendent in human and learning services with the Livingstone Range School Division Richard Feller.

Every once in a while, when the school see it fit, they welcome “grandmas” and “grandpas” into the school, rotating between classrooms to chat and connect with students.

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It usually happens when the community is having a difficult time, such as around the holidays.

On Monday, Blackfoot Elder Joe Eagle Tail Feathers sat down with some Grade 7 students while they ate.

He told stories and gave a mini language lesson in Blackfoot about the months and days of the week.

Anjiloh Crop Eared Wolf said he’s not only glad for the food, but to fill a connection he’s been missing.

“I have never really grown up with any grandparents at all because all of them passed away before I was born, so it’s nice to have an elder talk to me,” he said.

“He tells lots of great stories, teaching moments and just lots of great things about life,” added classmate Chase Nielson.

Click to play video: 'Toonies for Tummies addressing food insecurity at Edmonton school'
Toonies for Tummies addressing food insecurity at Edmonton school

Eagle Tail Feathers is pushing to have more understanding for the Blackfoot culture and history and less discrimination and is passionate about connecting with students of all backgrounds.

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“What’s really special about now is I’m able to share the little bit that I do know with all the students,” he said.

“I feel this generations of students these kids now, they’re going to make a big difference.”

Aside from the occasional sit-down meal chats, the school also runs a daily classroom-to-classroom breakfast cart.

Students and staff roll up to each classroom to deliver the goods right to students.

Feller said each school has a slightly different way of delivering programs but they are vital as some families continues to grapple with food insecurity.

“The number of meals is in the tens of thousands of meals per year that we serve,” he said. “We have a population of 400 students here at F.P Walshe, and primarily most students take part in the breakfast program.”

The Breakfast Club of Canada has 284 school nutrition programs in Alberta alone. It financially supports programs like these with help from the Toonies for Tummies campaign.

“It takes a community to help bring that to schools and to students, and we worked with the Grocery Foundation to provide a boost to (help) facilitate those wonderful and universally accessible breakfast programs,” explained Breakfast Club of Canada program lead Jonathan Espayos.

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