Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Santa pays series of visits to northern communities

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INSTEAD of a sleigh pulled by reindeer, Santa made stops in northern communities this week using transportation such as a custom helicopter.

The fourth annual Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Santa Express travelled to 30 First Nations this week to deliver candies and toys.

Along for the ride was MKO Grand Chief David Harper, as well as Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo, who was present for the first two days of the event.

Santa and his wife have appeared in about 18 communities so far, with the trip scheduled to end today.

"Each time they were visiting, they were of course there to meet with the children," said Brennan Manoakeesick, MKO spokesman, who said the visits led to other conversations with people over issues such as the Idle No More movement.

"It was a unique opportunity during the holiday season to have access to our national leader and see first-hand... the conditions in the communities, but also at the same time, to kind of spread a message of hope that things are moving forward positively for our people."

He said the RCMP donated about 2,000 toys for the trip. The group will travel to communities by plane and by truck and touched down in communities in Island Lake in helicopters.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2012 A10

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