A Nemaska couple from northern Quebec brought some Christmas cheer — in the form of a craft workshop and a meal of country food — to some Cree patients receiving treatment in Montreal.
Doris and Malcolm Tanoush traveled more than 1,100 hundred kilometres with a truck-full of beading and sewing supplies and bear, beaver, rabbit, moose and ptarmigan meat in mid-December.
It was to share with Cree patients who are away from family this holiday season and who stay at the Espresso Hotel, when they are in the city.
“I had it in my heart to do something. I have more than enough to get a crafts activity going for the people who are patients here, as it can be difficult for them when they can’t go home,” said Doris, who is an avid sewer and beader.
“Some people want to go home and be with their families this Christmas, but they won’t be able to do that. This is why I felt I wanted to do this and see their smiles,” she said.
Isolation hard for Cree patients
Doris added it’s hard for patients who are away from home and social networks in the Cree communities.
“I think when you are just in the room most of the time, it is not always pleasant. But, when you do go out … to be around people chatting and getting to know them helps. You get to know their thoughts and how they’re feeling,” said Doris.
Cree patients in Montreal also got a traditional meal, organized by Doris’s husband Malcolm, who is a pastor in Nemaska and loves to hunt.
Some of the wild meat had been harvested by Malcolm and some the couple bought on the drive south.
“[Malcolm] has so much compassion for those who cannot make it home this Christmas,” she said.
The couple prepared the food at the newly built Mohawk-Cree Teepee in Kahnawake, Que., a cross-cultural, all-nations project where Indigenous patients and others can gather and cook country food near Montreal.
This was the second feast Malcolm has offered Cree patients in Montreal. The first was in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, Doris wanted to do her part and share her passion for sewing and beading.
Malcolm also had time to cut and chop wood to use for cooking that they brought with them from up north.
Doris said the patients were happy, even if they couldn’t use their hands to sew and take part in the craft activity.
“Just for them to sit with us and have social time sharing stories they were happy,” said Doris. Those who did the craft activity said it was very helpful and encouraging for them.
“One woman said, ‘We don’t have to be riding in the car today or even just get stuck in the room.’ I was happy to do this for them,” said Doris.
The feast was held at the Espresso hotel. Plates were also made for people having dialysis treatments and those in the hospital.
They also had fellowship and singing.
“We were both so happy we did this for the people,” she said. “I saw my husband with tears, the things we did for the people made it so emotional for Malcolm.”