Pleasant Hill barbecue sparks challenge to make free meals a new tradition
100 Meal Challenge urges non-profits to hold more free community events
In a neighbourhood recently shaken by a spate of gang-related violence, a barbecue in the park on Thursday gave Pleasant Hill residents a chance to celebrate their community.
The free barbecue was organized by Str8 Up, a group that helps people leave gangs, as part of its family literacy program.
Str8 Up served 100 meals and hopes to inspire a series of similar events by challenging other non-profits to follow its lead. Chris Moyah, who is a member of Str8 Up, said it's being called the 100 Meal Challenge.
"You know there's a lot going on in this community and, you know, this is just another fun way to bring people together in a positive way," said Moyah.
A long line of families, teens and seniors gathered at the park Thursday afternoon.
One person went down the long line that formed for the barbecue handing out inspirational quotes on slips of paper, including one by the motivational speaker Denis Waitley: "Learn from the past, set vivid detailed goals for the future and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now."
February and March saw a spike in shootings and stabbings in Pleasant Hill, including the death of 31-year-old Mark Enwaya.
On March 29 a large crowd gathered at an emergency meeting called in response to the gang-related crime.
Owen Pelletier, a newcomer to Pleasant Hill who was at the barbecue, said it is important to have community events to bring the neighbourhood together just for fun.
"I think the main thing is to show the younger generation, to show the kids that, you know, it's not all negative around here," he said.
"There's a lot of positivity and a lot of people who want to do well … if you want to do better there's people here. It's a sense of pride."
Grayson Horse, who recently moved to Saskatoon from the Thunderchild First Nation, said he came across the barbecue accidentally.
"You could meet new people around. Meet friends here and make new friends too probably, talk to somebody you don't know," said Horse.
He said the community has been welcoming to him since he moved about two weeks ago.