CBC Thunder Bay Sounds of the Season: North Star Air delivers to 3 northern First Nations

A North Star Air plane carrying food for several remote First Nation communities has completed its deliveries for CBC Thunder Bay's 2017 Sounds of the Season.

Northwestern Ontario charter service delivers food to Eabametoong, Neskantaga, Marten Falls

North Star Air has donated an aircraft to fly food to three northern First Nations as part of CBC Thunder Bay's 2017 Sounds of the Season. (Chris Ensing / CBC)
Chief Bruce Achneepineskum of Marten Falls First Nation talks about the impact today's shipment of food will mean to his community. John Beardy of North Star Air says his airline is honoured to help 8:44

A North Star Air plane carrying food for several remote First Nation communities has completed its deliveries for CBC Thunder Bay's 2017 Sounds of the Season.

The charter service airline took its shipments of food to Eabametoong, Neskantaga and Marten Falls First Nations on Friday. The communities are hundreds of kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ont.

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      "This is going to be awesome, especially for the kids," said Lance Baxter Sr., who lives in Marten Falls, but added that the community is in a very difficult situation where even basic necessities are hard to come by.

      "Our store is going to be going down, we have no gas station," he said. "We're in crisis."

      Baxter said many members of the First Nation, located about 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, have left. He added that, for those who still call the community home, Friday's delivery will mean a lot.

      "It means food in the kids' bellies and that's all I care about," he said.

      The remoteness of the three communities that North Star delivered to on Friday means it's more difficult — and expensive — to transport even basic goods that far north; consequently, food, including staples like fruit, vegetables and fresh milk, can be hard to come by. The donations sent Friday were raised through the Sounds of the Season initiative. The food was supplied by a number of organizations, businesses and individuals.

      "Most likely, it's going to mean relief for the people, not having to worry about food for about a month," Marten Falls First Nation Chief Bruce Achneepineskum said. "The communities need foods that are fresh, and we're always looking at a way to provide that for the community. It's difficult."
      North Star Air's second stop on Friday was in Neskantaga First Nation. (Chris Ensing / CBC)

      Prior to touchdown in Marten Falls, the North Star Air PC-12 aircraft stopped in Neskantaga and Eabametoong.

      "It helps the families that are in need," said William Moonias, a council member in Neskantaga.

      "Getting stuff up here is, you're looking at almost double price of everything. It helps the family that needs help."

      Moonias added that food will go far in a close-knit community. "I'd like to thank everyone for the support."

      "Very generous," said Eabametoong Coun. Harry Papah, after the plane landed in the community of about 1,500 Friday morning and boxes of food were being unloaded. About 1,800 kilograms of food, including turkeys, was donated to the First Nation.

      Prior to takeoff Friday morning, officials with North Star Air told CBC Thunder Bay's Superior Morning about the anticipation they were feeling.

      "[I feel] really good, looking forward to it," said company spokesperson John Beardy. "The bright part is usually when you get to the community and see the people there, the leadership and whoever comes out to help out."

      "That's where the excitement happens."

      In total, Sounds of the Season is expected to provide food — ranging from canned goods and other pantry items to fresh produce — to more than 8,000 people, many of whom are children.