Northern Ontario First Nation focuses on feeding families in the face of COVID-19

The sign on the outside of the Atikameksheng library hasn't changed, but inside, the books have been shoved aside and what looks like a grocery store has moved in.

226 food boxes delivered to families on and off reserve in last two months

Atikameksheng education director Darlene Shawbonquit checks the grocery list of a family getting food through the First Nation's Miijim program. (Erik White/CBC )

Volunteers scramble around grabbing cans off of shelves and sorting through bins of rhubarb.

They are checking items off someone else's shopping list.

The Miijim program in Atikameksheng Anishnawbek was started in April to supply families in the First Nation just west of Sudbury with food. 

"We didn't want it labelled as a food bank, because that wasn't the intent. We wanted to make sure our families were eating," says the community's education director Darlene Shawbonquit.

Volunteers have put together 226 food boxes for Atikameksheng families living on and off reserve since April 1. (Erik White/CBC )

Miijim is the Ojibwe word for food and it is being provided to those who can't afford it and those worried about going to the local grocery store with COVID-19 spreading.

There are 110 families registered for the program and volunteers have so far filled 226 food boxes.

The Miijim program has taken over the community's library, with books shoved to the side and replaced with shelves full of canned goods, freezers full of meat and tables heaped with fresh fruit and vegetables.

"I like it," says program coordinator Lori Nootchtai.

"Serving the community. Making them happy."


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to