Churchill residents hope community Christmas feast provides bright spot during tough times
Food prices soar in northern community after railway washed out
People in Churchill are coming together to make sure people in the northern Manitoba town have a merry Christmas this year.
Volunteers are putting on a community feast on Dec. 23, with all the traditional holiday fixings, and presents and hampers for families to take home.
Organizer Helen McEwen said they wanted to give people something to look forward to after what has been a difficult year for the community. Ever since rail service was knocked out during spring flooding the town has had to fly in all supplies, significantly driving up the cost of food.
"It's really hard on people. They're struggling. People are having to take two and three jobs just to be able to afford to feed their families," McEwen said in an interview on CBC's Radio Noon.
Organizers expect between 200 and 300 people will show up out of a town of almost 900.
In addition to food like turkeys, perogies and cabbage rolls, they're putting together 80 hampers to send home. The hampers include a free-range chicken, potatoes, vegetables and canned food.
"It's providing hope for them. It's providing an opportunity to sit together as a community with your friends and your neighbours and share a meal and know that you're going to be ok at Christmas this year. And we're all in this together and we're all working to make that happen," McEwen said.
McEwen has lived in Churchill for more than 30 years. She described the mood in town as "very stressed, very down" and says people are moving away because they can't make it.
She hopes the feast will lift the community's spirits during the holiday season.
The federal government says it plans to sue Omnitrax, the Denver-based company that owns the railway and port in Churchill. The feds say Omnitrax is obliged to maintain the railway, but the company says it can't afford the repairs.
With files from Radio Noon