Salvation Army in Saskatoon Partners with Local Cree School to Assist Students

Salvation Army workers stand alongside staff and students of the St. Francis Cree Bilingual School
by SalvationArmy.ca
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In the province of Saskatchewan, Indigenous Peoples account for more than 14 percent of the population. A significant portion is located in Saskatoon, where the local Salvation Army has been on a journey of reconciliation by seeking ways to be engaged with Indigenous communities.

Last year, The Salvation Army in Saskatoon partnered with the neighbouring St. Francis Cree Bilingual School to assist students and families. Lieutenants Derek and Angela Kerr explain how this connection started.

“We began partnering with them to provide backpacks and school supplies for their students.”

“We began partnering with them to provide backpacks and school supplies for their students. Then it kind of snowballed from there.”

The Salvation Army built a friendly connection with the school. They met with the principal, and together they figured out more ways in which the Army could expand their engagement.

“We’ve been asking them to tell us where we can be of assistance. We don’t want to impose anything on them, and it’s worked out well, we’ve got a good working relationship with the school,” Lieutenant Derek Kerr adds.

Soon after, the Army’s involvement expanded. They began supplying non-perishable food items weekly to the school’s food pantry. This currently helps 23 students and seven adults involved with the school. They also introduced a bi-weekly breakfast program, which feeds over 1,000 students, donated sports equipment, and contributed to a school cooking program by providing a toaster oven.

“Thank you for coming out and meeting with our staff and community. We are so grateful for all your support.”

“Our families will be so grateful for your generosity. Thank you for coming out and meeting with our staff and community. We are so grateful for all your support,” Lori McAuley, principal at St. Frances Cree Bilingual School, says.

Thanks to their partnership, the school have invited members of The Salvation Army to several school events, including last year’s Truth and Reconciliation ceremony. As a thank you, students have also expressed their gratitude with gifts.

“Students have sent cards over to us that we have plastered on the walls in our church building. We were really touched,” Lieutenant Derek shares.

The decorations have served as conversation pieces for staff at The Salvation Army, and for people that come in, to learn about this friendly partnership.

Looking ahead, The Salvation Army in Saskatoon will be hosting a Truth and Reconciliation ceremony on Sept. 29. This event will also mark one year since the partnership began. The Army has invited the school’s staff, parents and students to attend and participate.

By Juan Romero