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Muslims gather food for First Nation

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Asha Kinnarath (left), Hussain Guisti and Sam Taylor help assemble Attawapiskat package.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Asha Kinnarath (left), Hussain Guisti and Sam Taylor help assemble Attawapiskat package. Photo Store

It's a long trip from Winnipeg on James Bay, but that's not stopping Manitoba's Muslim community from delivering 1,588 kilograms of food and disposable diapers to the needy in Attawapiskat First Nation.

 

Attawapiskat is a remote community in northern Ontario.

"Attawapiskat has been in a state of emergency," said Hussain Guisti, with the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation.

This is the fifth year the foundation is donating food to remote aboriginal communities. It's the first time it's gone this far afield, said Guisti.

He's spoken to Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who made headlines with a hunger strike to draw attention to poor housing and other problems First Nations face.

"She said, 'We have 100 people homeless and 400 families who rely on social welfare,' " Guisti said. The money families receive to live on lasts only until the middle of the month, he said.

"They have to rely on bread the rest of the month," he said. "That's Third World poverty."

Guisti is rounding up the donations from members of Manitoba's Muslim community to mark Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice, to show gratitude to God and to provide for the poor and needy.

Eid-al-Adha marks the conclusion of the hajj, or pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Many Muslims who are not performing the hajj celebrate by making charitable donations, visiting friends and family and enjoying festive meals.

By Tuesday, the charity had collected 175 kilograms of ground beef, 75 kilograms of lamb, 109 kg of prime beef, 12 kg of eggs and 227 kg of chicken, said Guisti. He's also gathered 50 boxes of disposable diapers that weigh more than 4.5 kg each and will be rounding up milk, rice, flour, potatoes and carrots for the community.

This weekend, he's hauling as much as he can 1,400 kilometres by trailer to Timmins, Ont., where Thunder Air has offered the charity a discount to fly 1,588 pounds of freight into the community 500 kilometres north of Timmins.

Attawapiskat, with a population of close to 1,800, is talking about starting a food bank, said Guisti. The deposit from Manitoba donors will give it a boost he said.

"This is helping out."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 26, 2013 D12

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