I Love First Peoples organization holds shoebox charity drive

Kingston chapter hoping to establish long-term presence with campaign building

An ILFP shoebox donated in Kingston.
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Starting this month, Canada’s I Love First Peoples (ILFP) Kingston chapter is accepting gift-filled shoebox donations for Indigenous youth. 

ILFP is a registered Canadian non-profit organization focused on empowering Indigenous youth to stay in school. Currently, ILFP’s projects reach remote communities and promote education through donations and awareness campaigns.

“This is our first ever shoebox drive,” Kingston chapter President Nilita Sood told The Journal in an interview.

Following a visit to Winnipeg where she witnessed the suffering of First Nations peoples who lived on the streets of the city, Josée Lusignan founded ILFP in 2013. She returned to Quebec and began her engagement with the community of Rapid Lake. 

After Lusignan’s visit to the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre this March and  information night about the organization, the Kingston chapter was launched. Not only did Sood get involved, but she actually met the people that would become her ILFP team. 

“[Lusignan] reached out to the Kingston community for anyone interested in joining the team and it just started from there,” Sood recalled. “Our core function here is to run an annual gift-filled shoebox collection in Kingston."

According to ILFP’s website, the drive invites people across the country to donate shoeboxes full of gifts for Indigenous youth. Individuals are asked to fill the shoebox with toys, hygiene items and supplies depending on the specific age range and gender of the recipient in mind.

The shoeboxes can be brought to one of 28 drop-off points across the country at any time throughout the year. There are three drop-off points in Kingston, including the Queen’s Society of Graduate and Professional Students office in the JDUC.

With the boxes distributed throughout the country, the Kingston chapter collections will specifically be part of a cumulative donation to communities listed under the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

Even though the drive operates nationally, the organization ensures donations remain in-province and are given to local communities. Along with each shoebox, a separate $5 donation is requested to cover shipping costs, as some communities are only accessible by plane. 

“Our long-term goal right now is to establish a presence in the community,” Sood said. “We want to get people talking, have them engaged and make them aware of the change that they can make.”

She hopes the team’s presence on campus and future collaborations with St. Lawrence College and RMC will aid in generating awareness about the project.

“The goal of the shoeboxes is to show Indigenous youth that Canadians care, that we are listening and they are valued,” she said. “These shoeboxes are a tangible way to practice and engage in the ongoing project of reconciliation in Canada.” 

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