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Smiles and Tears at the Indigenous Family Centre

We, Guelph First CRC Youth Serve Group, travelled to Winnipeg this past July. Before the trip, we had an orientation day where we were fed facts and knowledge on the background of Canadian Indigenous peoples. This orientation created a passion in each of us to make a difference for these people and to help them. When we set off for our trip shortly after that, we had no idea what to expect. We knew the basics; we knew would be staying at the Indigenous Family Center (IFC) in the north end of Winnipeg, we knew we would be helping around the community, and we knew that we wanted to make a difference in the lives of those we served. What we certainly didn’t expect, was that they would also make a difference in our lives.

Nathalie and Micah, our hosts, were amazing; they had so much planned for us that we didn’t even get to all of it! Our activities there involved hosting a BBQ dinner and a pancake breakfast for the community; gardening at the IFC; visiting the Thunderbird house and sweat lodge; travelling and exploring Winnipeg; but most of all – meeting new people and hearing their stories.  

One the activities our group participated in was disturbing and saddening. A man was in the hospital and didn’t have much time to live due to a heroin addiction. His apartment was a complete mess and, like the man who once lived there, was at the end of its days. Our group went to the apartment and room by room began working through the grime, the mold, the bugs, and the smells. A few weeks after we returned from our trip, we received news that he had passed away. He is in a better place with God, no longer affected by heavy influence of drugs and poverty. 

This trip caused plenty of tear-streaked faces (ours!) but it also brought many smiles to the lips of those we served and our own. We got to meet so many new people, hear plenty of heart-wrenching stories – as well as uplifting ones, and change our lives. These people live in poverty and yes, that has its effects. But we also saw people laughing with each other and caring for one another. Everything we experienced changed our lives in ways we never could have expected.

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