It was a day of holiday bliss and companionship for the group of elders who attended the fourth annual Elder’s Christmas Feast at Victor Sammurtok School (VSS) in Chesterfield Inlet on Thursday, Dec. 12.
The event was organized by longtime VSS teacher Ana Leishman, who said
24 of the 30 elders invited to the feast were able to attend.
Leishman said the feast included a turkey dinner with all the fixings, two hams, buns, macaroni salad and numerous deserts.
She said VSS principal Jack Gordon also entertained the gathering with live flute playing.
“Because our school bus is currently down, we had staff members helping out by picking the elders up who needed a little assistance getting to the school,” said Leishman.
“It was a team effort to get everyone to the school and, once everyone was there, Father Kwong, our priest and elder, said an opening prayer, I thanked everyone for coming and let them know the event
was sponsored by Northern Canada Mini Projects,” said Leishman.
“Each of our elders was, kind of, adopted by someone from southern Canada. The only information I give them in the south is the name of the elder and what hockey team they like.
“They each get a little Christmas package that might have some goodies or treats, or a little Christmas decoration – just a little something to remind everyone that there are people out there who think about Northern Canada, our elders and youth.”
Leishman said many of the elders told her it was just really nice to have an event like this that allows them the time to get out and see each other.
She said even in a small community like Chester, it’s not something the elders get to do a whole lot.
“Some of our elders grew-up together, so they have a long history together and plenty of stories, but they don’t always get an opportunity to come together and reminisce.
“Some of the elders told us it was just nice to sit together and talk to everyone, and they wished they could do it more often.
“That’s one of the things we talk about at the school; how do we provide opportunities throughout the year to bring our elders together and this is, of course, a big one at Christmas, but we want to provide other get-togethers for them, as well.”
Leishman said students at VSS help out at the feast, as well.
She said after school staff members get the whole event put together, senior students from grades nine to 12 help serve the food.
“We have some kids helping put the portions on each plate and we have others, who we call runners, who get everything for the elders who aren’t very mobile and they appreciate the service.
“It’s always nice to see our elders being catered to by the students like that.
“It just helps the gathering be a very, very special event the elders really enjoyed.”