The St. Vincent de Paul Society has raised funds to help furnish pre-fab homes sent to Attawapiskat. Photo by Rosie Koostachin

Vincentians aid Attawapiskat

By 
  • May 9, 2012

A house is just a big container. It’s what you put in it that makes it a home. The St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Kevin’s in Val Therese, Ont., knows the difference.

The Vincentians inspired parishioners at St. Kevin’s and their fellow Vincentians around the province to contribute $24,000 to help furnish pre-fab houses going to the native community of Attawapiskat, Ont.

In December, when Indian Affairs and Northern Development Minister John Duncan ordered 22 new homes for the Hudson’s Bay region community, it soon occurred to St. Vincent de Paul volunteer Michelle Jenkinson that those houses would need stoves, fridges, beds and much more to be livable.

“I was trying to get my MP to find out whether they actually were furnished,” Jenkinson told The Catholic Register from her home 20 minutes north of Sudbury, Ont.

She eventually discovered only the first eight houses sent up the ice roads were furnished. Ottawa-based charity True North Aid was trying to raise $80,000 to make sure the remainder had everything from heaters to light bulbs.

A retired hospital chaplain, Jenkinson was soon in touch with the provincial conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to see whether SSVP could contribute to the True North Aid effort.

Though some in Northern Ontario have been skeptical of Attawapiskat’s Oct. 28 declaration of a housing emergency, most people responded generously to the appeal when they saw the conditions people were living in, said Jenkinson.

“At church I said there’s a lot of political things going on, but the bottom line is the children — we need to get them into safe houses,” said Jenkinson.

Jenkinson’s group raised $4,000 in its first week.

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