A fundraiser launched by the North Okanagan Leg To Table group is benefitting Okanagan Indian Band members and local meat producers. (Contribute)

A fundraiser launched by the North Okanagan Leg To Table group is benefitting Okanagan Indian Band members and local meat producers. (Contribute)

North Okanagan meat drive steered toward OKIB, producers

Fundraiser launched by North Okanagan Leg To Table group helping those badly hit by wildfires, floods

The North Okanagan Land to Table Network (L2T) is sharing its success story of helping two groups severely impacted by weather and fires in 2021.

L2T is a growing network of people and organizations from across the North Okanagan who support L2T’s vision of building a thriving, healthy, resilient food system.

For Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) members from IR #1, any hint of a thriving, healthy, resilient food system took a major hit in the summer of 2021 when residents were evacuated to wildfires.

Ten homes were lost. So was the popular and important Little Kingdom Grocery Store, the only such store on Westside Road. Today, more homes remain under evacuation alert due to threat of floods and landslides. As a result, the OKIB’s food security has been dramatically affected as power outages meant peoples’ freezers stored with hunted game and fish were lost.

With funding from United Way, L2T and the OKIB have been working together to support greater food security through a new Good Food Box delivery centre to make up for the lost grocery store, and also a meat drive to replace lost stores of meat.

HOW ‘FIRE & FLOOD RECOVERY MEAT DRIVE’ FUNDRAISER BEGAN

This fundraiser started with the OKIB-initiated meat drive. One of L2T’s steering committee members, Mary Stockdale, visited a local farm to buy some meat for the meat drive and heard the story of how badly meat producers have been affected by the many different climate impacts, the limited hay or feed for winter due to the drought and fires, or the loss of access to markets in Vancouver due to the floods.

“The L2T team then realized we could connect the two issues more effectively, and make the whole effort more efficient, if we set up a GoFundMe, where donors could send money in, and a L2T/OKIB team could transfer it, in an equitable way, to local farmers, enabling them to transport their meat directly to the OKIB community freezer,” said Stockdale.

The result was a GoFundMe called the ‘Fire & Flood Recovery Meat Drive,’ which has been successful beyond L2T’s dreams.

Within two weeks, this fundraiser was able to exceed its goal of $5,000, raising an outstanding total of $ 7,770.

“We are now working with seven local farmers who were impacted by the rising cost of feed and highway closures to secure more than 1,730 pounds of chicken, pork and beef for the OKIB community,” said Stockdale. “Thankfully, a large portion of this meat will make it out to OKIB families in time for the holidays.”

As far as traditional food, donors’ generosity has helped L2T to support a local OKIB hunter in bringing in 120 lbs of deer meat for the community. On top of this they are working with another OKIB member to revitalize traditional Indigenous trade routes and bring in roughly 50 lbs of halibut from the coast.

“We have also made plans to secure a whole bison in the spring and are $800 away from achieving that goal,” said Stockdale. “Despite their own struggles, many of the farmers and Indigenous food providers we partnered with insisted on donating meat and fish or providing us with a significant discount to ensure each dollar was stretched as far as possible.”

The fundraiser turned out to be a win-win for two groups of people affected by the fires and floods: the OKIB on the one hand, and the local meat producers on the other.

“We are so pleased that L2T, with our overview of the different parts of the regional food system, were able to connect the dots and enable this good news story to happen,” said Stockdale, adding one thing her group has learned from this and all the other recent impacts of climate and COVID-19 on the food supplies is that the work L2T does is important.

“It is only going to be more and more important for all of us that we support our local food producers and strengthen the regional food system. It is also going to be more and more important to care for those whose food security is most affected, and help to get them back on their feet.

FINAL WORDS

Stockdale said L2T is “overwhelmed with gratitude for the amazing community that helped to make this fundraiser happen. From the bottom of our hearts, lim lemt and happy holidays!”

If anyone wants to top up the GoFundMe by another $800 to $8,500 so that L2Tcan buy a full bison in the spring, please go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/fire-flood-recovery-meat-drive

For more ways to support the OKIB fire and flood recovery efforts more generally, check out this page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/okib-fire-recovery.

READ MORE: Guide outfitters make hay for Okanagan Indian Band following wildfire

READ MORE: Okanagan Indian Band raising recovery funds from White Rock Lake wildfire

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