NIȽ TU,O children and their caregivers are welcome to join us in celebration of the holiday season
While the pandemic has necessitated a temporary halt to gathering in large groups, NIȽ TU,O has adapted to find a fun and unique way to continue to support NIȽ TU,O children and their caregivers throughout the holidays.
NIȽ TU,O will be celebrating the Christmas season in a COVID friendly manner for our 2nd year; with our children in continuing care, who are living with their extended family members or caregivers. A gift giving drive through has been organized in mid-December in the NIȽ TU,O parking lot. Santa and his helpers will be there to present the children with their much wished for gifts.
Shown above: NIȽ TU,O Santa waves in preparation to give gifts at the NIȽ TU,O Christmas Drive Thru
NIȽ TU,O children and their caregivers will drive through and have their gifts, gift baskets, and food gift cards presented by Santa and his elf helpers in a COVID safe way.
Shown above, the Christmas Drive-Thru at NIȽ TU,O complete with Santa and Elves
Shown above, the pile of Christmas gifts for children accessing NIȽ TU,O programs and services including continuing care, voluntary or special needs agreements, and youth agreements
The Christmas Drive Thru is just one of the ways that NIȽ TU,O works to provide culturally safe support to South Island Coast Salish children and families. By providing food and gifts during a time that can be especially stressful, NIȽ TU,O hopes to alleviate some of the pressure of the holiday season for our children, families and caregivers.
CHRISTMAS BEFORE THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
In the years pre-COVID, NIȽ TU,O would host an unforgettable party with food, gifts, and an opportunity to gather for connection, community, and laughter for NIȽ TU,O children and their caregivers.
Shown above: A Christmas feast for the children and families NIȽ TU,O serves.
30+ team members would pitch in to plan the event: renting a huge hall, organizing the food, gifts, decorations, costumes, and activities to ensure a memorable event for all who attend.
The yearly party brought kids in care, their families, caregiver families, families accessing services, and adolescents accessing services together with NIȽ TU,O staff for dinner, presents, games, and laughter.
Local Chef’s Rose Jimmy and Michelle Morris, renowned for their incredible meals, would make more than enough turkey dinner for everyone to take home a generous box of leftovers. The traditional Christmas dinner included turkey, ham, potatoes, vegetables, and all the trimmings, including dessert.
In addition to the Christmas party, NIȽ TU,O has also historically contributed $2500 to each Member Nation to go towards community Christmas celebrations.
Shown above: Rose Jimmy, putting the finishing touches on her baking
Shown above, NIȽ TU,O Staff Michelle (left) and Risako (right) prepare to serve our families Christmas Dinner
After dinner, Santa (who some children may recognize as Scott Sam) would make an appearance to the delight of the crowd. His elves would also be there helping out, by passing out gifts for all the children in attendance, including children of caregivers. For the attending adolescents and teenagers, a $100 gift card was warmly received.
The Christmas party was a fantastic opportunity for community members to connect, meet the staff, and participate in an event that truly brought joy to the children.
Once dinner was finished and the gifts were handed out, families got a laugh out of the photo booth, where aunties, uncles, grandparents, and children took funny photos together.
Shown above: The photo booth station where families take fun photos together.
Then, everyone who wanted them, were sent home with leftovers as well as memories of a great evening. NIȽ TU,O Christmas parties were such a great time, many attendees made the trip over the Malahat especially to attend. NIȽ TU,O looks forward to hosting our annual Christmas party with our children and families, when it is safe to gather together again.
NIȽ TU,O SUPPORTS OUR FAMILIES AND CAREGIVERS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
While the Christmas party was by far the biggest gathering of the year, NIȽ TU,O also hosted monthly caregiver dinners as well. For these smaller gatherings, food and childminding were provided and a speaker or presenter also attended to provide training or support on a relevant topic to caregiving.
Topics in the past were traditional foods, knitting, drum making, drum painting, fishing, land-based teachings, traditional plants, and medicine as well as caregiving training and knowledge.
Again, the pandemic has necessitated changes to these events, so in the meantime NIȽ TU,O has been providing pizza delivery or restaurant gift cards along with the zoom check-ins and virtual meetings, with a training or workshop component.
Shown above: a NIȽ TU,O pizza box cover to keep food warm for caregivers
Executive Director Katharina Stocker explains the importance of these gatherings,
“We support our kids and families the way they need to be supported and gathering together over meals has always been a powerful way to connect. To see the children playing together, the moms and dads connecting with other moms and dads and all the aunties and grandparents around as well, that’s healing. It’s how our family structures work and how our culture works. So the more we can bring people back to the Coast Salish way of doing things, the healthier our communities will be.”