Manitoba

Heaters, warm clothes headed to Sandy Bay First Nation

A Winnipeg company is calling for donations to help residents of Sandy Bay First Nation as many community members strap in for a long winter in broken-down homes, some of which don't have proper heat.

‘Good Samaritans coming out of the blue to help us’: Organizers

Rocky Dhillon (left) of Dhillon Automotive Group is gathering donations for Sandy Bay First Nation. (CBC)

A Winnipeg company is calling for donations to help residents of Sandy Bay First Nation as many community members strap in for a long winter in broken-down homes, some of which don't have proper heat.

Housing conditions on the reserve have been in the headlines and circulating on social media since a former resident posted a video of one family's dilapidated trailer in early November.

Rocky Dhillon, vice-president of Dhillon Automotive Group, started a drive for donations on Friday.

He plans to make the drive to Sandy Bay himself, after being spurred to action by images he saw on social media and in the news.

"I've seen the conditions that are on the First Nations reserve, and it just broke my heart," he said.

"I have kids, and just to see that happening is just heartbreaking. I decided to do something about it and get heaters and donations."

Gerald McIvor is from Sandy Bay and helps co-ordinate donations that a number of groups have been making to the community.

He said the support he's seeing from groups like Dhillon Automotive gives him hope.

"You start something like this and you've prayed, and then all of a sudden you get Good Samaritans coming out of the blue to help us," he said.

Staff at Dhillon Automotive Group are gathering donations for Sandy Bay First Nation. Vice-president Rocky Dhillon said he plans to drive the donations up himself on Monday. (CBC)

On Saturday afternoon, Dhillon said the company had collected stacks of clothing and more than $400, which they used to buy heaters.

"Within 24 hours I think we did a fantastic job, and hopefully [we can] do more," he said. 

Dhillon plans to make the 130-kilometre trip out to Sandy Bay from Winnipeg himself on Monday to deliver the goods in person. He plans to post the drop-off on Facebook Live.

"I want to give it personally, and let them feel good for the Christmas holidays," he said.

"People can donate heaters or clothing, [for] adults or kids, anything of any nature — any clothing. We are asking Winnipeggers to please help."

Donations flooding in

The community has received other donations from as far as Toronto and Calgary, said David Beaulieu, a Sandy Bay resident who's helping with on-reserve co-ordination.

Groups including B'nai Brith and the Green Acres Hutterite Colony have reached out to him and other co-ordinators to offer donations of clothing and material, he said.

"People are responding," Beaulieu said, adding he's received emails and calls sharing messages of support.

"That helps a lot, when people respond from all over."

The First Nation is home to more than 6,600 people.

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