Published: December 7, 2016
BY JILL WOOLLEY
Plates, seats and bellies were all full at the annual Christmas Feast hosted by the Red Lake Indian Friendship Centre (RLIFC) on Dec. 1. An estimated 300 people attended the event held at the Royal Canadian Legion.
“This is the biggest feast of the year,” said organizer Monique Tougas. It is a free event open to members of the public.
Centre staff and volunteers prepared turkey and hot food items and asked community members to bring other contributions. Guests were offered a bowl of moose or rabbit soup and a piece of bannock (fry bread) at the start of their meal.
It’s the traditional food that brings Sopena Meekis back year after year. “I come for the food,” she joked, “I like the moose meat and fish.” Meekis is a member of the RLIFC board and participates in their exercise program on Wednesday mornings.
Members of the English River Miners hockey team filled two tables in the hall. For some of the team, it was their first time to try traditional foods. Team members Zac Schlitt, Sam Cirone and Trevor Pereverzoff all said they enjoyed the new foods.
Employees of the RLIFC and volunteers served the elders in attendance. “I like to help,” said high school student Elizabeth Angeconeb. “I like to see everyone and make sure they get a good meal.” This was her second year volunteering at the feast.
Angeconeb’s friends Jasper Crow, Evan James and Ken Wood also helped to dish out food, serve plates and do the dishes. They participate in many centre activities and all agreed this is their way to help give back to the community and the centre.
Alma Sandberg has attended the feast for over 30 years. Sandberg and her family have a long history of involvement with the RLIFC. In previous years she has always volunteered in the kitchen but had another commitment this year. She couldn’t miss the meal, though. Seated with her sister, nephew and his children, she said the children were babies when they first started coming.
“It’s the biggest social gathering of the year. We might not see some [people] at other times of the year, but they come out for this event,” said Tougas.