An iconic Winnipeg ice cream shop is slinging orange-dipped cones to raise money for residential school survivors.
The Bridge Drive-In, known to Winnipeggers as simply BDI, unveiled the initiative this month. One dollar from every cone sold will be donated to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, an organization that provides essential services to residential school survivors, their families and those dealing with intergenerational traumas.
The idea came to Lexi Greechan, inventory supervisor at BDI, on Canada Day. The vigils and protests held across the country in the wake of unmarked graves being found at residential school sites made her reflect on Indigenous issues.
"My best friend is Indigenous and his father was a ’60s Scoop kid," Greechan said. "I take it personally because I see the struggles his family has gone through. I just wanted to show my support for the community."
Shortly after, Greechan’s co-worker came to her with the same idea. They quickly got on ordering supplies.
The response has been positive; BDI-goers are loving the famous soft serve dipped in a crunchy orange outer shell. Customers can choose whichever flavour of ice cream they like, but when paired with vanilla the combination tastes like a creamsicle (this is Greechan’s favourite combination). There is also a vegan option for those who can’t or choose not to eat dairy.
BDI hands out approximately 40 cones each day at its Winnipeg location, and its Kenora, Ont. food truck is "blowing throug" supplies.
So far, BDI has raised a couple hundred dollars for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. Greechan has a feeling this number could climb in the coming weeks. The business’ last fundraiser for children’s mental health services brought in over a thousand dollars.
"It’s really important to everyone who works at BDI that we hold fundraisers," Greechan said. "We all have a lot of issues that are close to our heart."
Greechan doesn’t yet know how long the initiative will run but hopes cones will be available until the end of summer.
"I think it’s a really important thing to be donating to," Greechan said. "We all have a responsibility to reconcile."
Greechan encourages other businesses to take part by donating the proceeds from an item to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.
"If every business did something small like this, for even a week, that could make a huge impact," Greechan said.
Orange-dipped cones are available at both BDI’s Winnipeg and Kenora Harbourfront locations. Hours can be found on BDI’s website at www.bridgedrivein.com
Kelsey James is the reporter/photographer for The Sou’wester. She graduated from Red River College’s creative communications program in 2018 as a journalism major and holds a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric, writing and communications from the University of Winnipeg. A lifelong Winnipegger who grew up in southwest Winnipeg, Kelsey is thrilled to be covering the neighbourhoods she still calls “home.”