Thunder Bay·Sounds Of the Season

On the ground! Plane loaded with donated food arrives in Sandy Lake First Nation

A shipment of donated food, collected through CBC Thunder Bay's 2016 Sounds Of the Season special arrived at its destination in Sandy Lake First Nation on Friday.

Over 4,000 kilograms of food made the trip to Ontario's far north.

3,000 pounds of fresh carrots were part of the shipment of food that landed in Sandy Lake First Nation Friday. (CBC)

Ever wanted to know what 3,000 pounds of carrots looks like?

That's some of what a number of Sandy Lake First Nation residents, working in a school gymnasium on Friday, saw as they unloaded and sorted food that was on a Wasaya Airways plane that landed in the far north community earlier in the day.

The shipment of donated food — which also included other fruits and vegetables, as well as canned and boxed goods — was the result of a partnership between CBC Thunder Bay, the Regional Food Distribution Association and Wasaya, as part of the public broadcaster's 2016 Sounds Of the Season special.

The plane took off from Thunder Bay, Ont. Friday morning after a special broadcast of Superior Morning and landed in the far north just before noon, ET.

Sandy Lake, a fly-in First Nation about 650 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, is a community where fresh food is much more difficult to come by at a reasonable price, than in less remote parts of the northwest.
Many groceries - including fresh produce - are much more expensive in the remote north, than in other parts of Ontario. (CBC)

On Friday morning, 10,000 pounds — or 4,536 kilograms — of food was loaded onto a Wasaya Hawker Siddeley 748 — our sleigh for this mission — to fly to Sandy Lake. The use of plane was donated by the First Nations-owned airline.

Wasaya Airways, Erb Trucking and the Trucks for Change network have all been instrumental in getting the donated food to its final destination.
The Wasaya Airways hangar in Thunder Bay, Ont. on Friday morning. (CBC)

In addition, from southern Ontario, Leamington-based Southwestern Ontario Gleaners has donated a huge shipment of soup mix, snacks and fresh produce. 

On Friday's Superior Morning broadcast, Sandy Lake Chief Bart Meekis thanked the community's "southern brothers and sisters."

"Food is very, very expensive up north," he said. "Maybe three or four times as high as down south."

Every member of Sandy Lake will receive a fresh food hamper. The community of 2,000 has been instrumental in co-ordinating the in-community transportation and distribution of the food after it arrived — no easy task, considering the –25 C temperatures Friday and the need to protect the fresh fruits and vegetables.

In addition to the donated food, Thunder Bay's Sounds Of the Season also raised about $10,000 in cash, so far.

With files from the CBC's Jody Porter and Ron Desmoulins