Nearly 8,000 pounds of food is headed for Churchill in the name of a little girl who lost her life there last year.

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This article was published 16/11/2017 (1276 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Nearly 8,000 pounds of food is headed for Churchill in the name of a little girl who lost her life there last year.

A volunteer food drive will deliver everything from fall suppers to Christmas hampers to people in Churchill in honour of the memory of five-year-old Danica deLaroque, who died on the Churchill River when she was in a canoe that capsized while she was viewing beluga whales.

Danica deLaroque died in Churchill last year when the canoe she was in with her dad and brother capsized while they were beluga watching.

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Danica deLaroque died in Churchill last year when the canoe she was in with her dad and brother capsized while they were beluga watching.

The campaign is on track to get the food there by the first week of December.

"Part of Danica is still up there," explained her mom, Toni deLaroque, who is spearheading the food drive.

"The community in Churchill really hurt when we lost her. They’re beautiful people, and they don’t deserve what’s happening up there now. I just hope we can make a little bit of a difference in their lives."

Churchill has had no rail service since flooding damaged track last spring. Responsibility for repairs to the line has turned into a political and legal football between governments and railway owner Omnitrax.

That has seen food prices soar in Churchill because it is much more expensive to move them by air than by rail. For example, a four-litre jug of milk sells for $11 — and that’s after the price has been discounted by a federal subsidy.

DeLaroque’s food drive will also bolster the breakfast program for school kids in Churchill. She’s heard children go to school even when they’re sick just so they can get something to eat. "That’s how dire it is," she said.

The food campaign is run through a charity started by Danica’s parents called Danica’s Village to help children.

The campaign started in August when deLaroque learned an RCMP charter flight had extra cargo space. Danica’s Village arranged to ship 80 backpacks filled with school supplies and $600 in breakfast foods — which would have cost $4,000 in Churchill — to school children there.

Natural Habitat Adventures in Churchill offered deLaroque 1,000 pounds of free freight on another chartered flight. DeLaroque began collecting food donations from several sources, including Winnipeg Harvest, Peak of the Market, Winnipeg Specialty Meats and Sigs Grill in Stonewall.

Natural Habitat raised the allowable load to 1,500 pounds and when the plane left this week, it carried 1,800 pounds of fruit, vegetables, ham and turkey, as well as several hundred pounds of cereal, cookies and crackers.

DeLaroque’s friend Belinda Fitzpatrick, who owns the Tundra Inn in Churchill, and about 20 employees have volunteered to turn the foodstuffs into soup.

The staff has volunteered to work for several days after the restaurant closes for the season on Nov. 23 to make what may be the biggest batch of broth the northern town has ever seen.

The soup will be frozen and put into Christmas hampers.

Tundra Inn is hoping to prepare some lasagna and chili.

"It’s just really good that we haven’t been forgotten," Fitzpatrick said. "People are stepping up to donate time and money to make sure Christmas in Churchill is good for everyone."

Calm Air is the latest to step up by offering 6,000 pounds of free freight on flights in December. However, there was one caveat: the food had to be delivered to Thompson. Enter trucking company Gardewine with an offer of free transportation from Winnipeg to Thompson.

There will be 80 Christmas hampers. A chicken will go into each hamper purchased by businesses in Churchill.

Turkey will be served at the fall supper meal, which will be open to everyone either free of charge or for $5.

Donations can be made through Winnipeg Harvest, Warren Tire or Inwood Insurance in Stonewall.

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca