Ontario Regional Chief delivers ‘unreal’ donation to Thunder Bay Shelter House

Ontario Regional Chief delivers ‘unreal’ donation to Thunder Bay Shelter House


Ontario Regional Chief delivers ‘unreal’ donation to Thunder Bay Shelter House's Profile

The spirit of giving was on full display in Thunder Bay Ont, ahead of the Thanksgiving long weekend. 

The Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief drove a cube van across Ontario last week, packed full of clothes and cold weather supplies for homeless people in the northwestern Ontario city.

Chief Glen Hare arrived in Thunder Bay on Friday, and brought the truck load of donations to the Thunder Bay Shelter House.

The donations came from a group of seniors in Fenelon Falls, Ont., near Peterborough, who have been collecting clothing and supplies for First Nations for around eight years, he said.

“They just call me when it’s ready for pickup. I go down and load it up with them and hit the road,” Hare said. “It’s awesome. I love it. I love doing it.” 

Cal Rankin, the executive director of Shelter House, called the delivery “unreal” and said he’d be sharing the supplies with other shelters and social service providers in town. 

Cal Rankin stands in a meeting room at Shelter House that is packed with donations delivered by Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare. (Submitted by Ken Miller)

“There’s bedding – meaning blankets, sheets, pillows, that sort of thing – some sleeping bags. There’s boots, mitts; there’s toys for kids; all different types of clothing items – shirts, men’s, women’s clothing. There’s just so much,” he said, adding he’s overwhelmed by the generosity. 

Donation is a tradition for Regional Chief

Hare has been collecting clothing for First Nations for around 30 years, he said.

He was motivated by his interest in child welfare and his realization that families were struggling to provide adequate clothing for their children.

Then a former chief handed him a bag of clothes and asked if someone could use them.

“Next time it was two, three,” he said. 

Then it was a truckload.

Ken Miller of NorWest Community Health Centres and Cal Rankin of Shelter House load some of the donations bound for Norwest. (Submitted by Don Mann)

“We’ve put it up a notch this year,” Hare said. 

“By that I mean we’re filling up planes now for our remote communities. We just did one this week for Big Trout Lake, KI. We took up food and medical supplies over there in the plane. All donations.”

Hare estimates that he does about four deliveries a year, but Friday’s was the first one he had ever made to Thunder Bay Shelter House instead of to a First Nation community.

The idea came from Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum, he said.

Achneepineskum has been calling for more support for clients of the shelters in Thunder Bay because the facilities are under-funded, she said.

“So, I had a fall feast last weekend, and I did a public call out, you know, for people to come and donate whether it’s food or clothing,” she said.  “ORC Hare saw my call out, my request, and so he and his office are making a very kind contribution of clothing and baby supplies.”

Rankin said he felt lucky that Shelter House was chosen as the destination to help distribute the items. 

“I’m very happy that we were able to help in this endeavour,” he said. “It really is quite huge.”

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