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Catholic group donates children’s coats to Northlands Denesuline First Nation

Knights of Columbus focused 2021 Coats For Kids donations on Indigenous and First Nations youth in the spirit of reconciliation.
knights of columbus lac brochet coat donation december 2021
Mike McDougall of the Knights of Columbus (centre), poses with Northland Denesuline First Nation Chief Simon Denechezhe (right), Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee (second from right) and Carlos Castillo of Perimeter Aviation (second from left), as well as a couple of samples from the eight cases of coats the Knights donated to Northlands Densuline First Nation. The coats were presented to Denechezhe at the MKO Winnipeg office in December.

A Catholic men’s organization donated more than $2,500 worth of children’s winter coats to Northlands Denesuline First Nation in Lac Brochet.

The donation of eight cases of coats through the Knights of Columbus’s annual Coats For Kids campaign was presented to Northland Denesuline Chief Simon Denechezhe about a week before Christmas at the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak office in Winnipeg. 

The coats were set to be delivered by Perimeter Aviation to the remote Fist Nation, which is above the 58th parallel in northwestern Manitoba and accessible only by air except during the winter road season.

Mike MacDougall, leader of the umbrella organization that represents all 80 Knights of Columbus councils in Manitoba, said 16 of those councils ordered and paid for 34 cases of coats for their own campaigns and the Knights of Columbus matched that. Those coats were earmarked for donation to children who needed them, with a focus on Indigenous youth.

“We chose to have more of a First Nations focus on how we were going to divide the coats and where we were going to send the coats,” he said. “Sept. 30 of course was the National day for Truth and Reconciliation so we thought First Nations children, especially outside the city of Winnipeg … seemed like a good fit.”

The original plan was for MacDougall to fly to Lac Brochet and present the coats in person but scheduling issues prevented that.

“I would have liked to go up firsthand to see some of the community members but it just wasn’t in the cards,” MacDougall told the Thompson Citizen in December. “We wanted to get the coats out as quick as we can.”

MacDougall is in his first year as head of the Knights in Manitoba and says he is glad they had the chance to help out.

“I feel good about being part of an organization that does all the charitable giving that the Knights do,” he said, and believes donations to First Nations could become a regular part of the their annual Coats For Kids campaign. “There’s so many First Nations that are remote and don’t have access to just go to the store and buy a new coat or possibly have the funds available to do such.”

Following news coverage of the donation in Winnipeg, MacDougall was contacted by Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation at Nelson House about being a recipient of the coats. The Knights of Columbus were also working with the Bear ClanPatrol in Winnipeg to co-ordinate donation of some of the coats to inner-city children.