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Charity trip to Nicaragua fuels desire to do good at home for northern Ontario Indigenous mom, daughter

A mother-daughter duo from Wabauskang First Nation in northwestern Ontario is working with a Canadian and Nicaraguan charity to do good work both abroad, and at home.

Mother-daughter duo plans to install library in their First Nation

Terri Meekis (second from left) and her 10-year-old daughter Kiera Cameron travelled from Wabauskang First Nation in northwestern Ontario to help build a school in Nicaragua this summer. They went as part of the Indigenous Youth Empowering Students program through the charity SchoolBOX. (SchoolBOX)

A mother-daughter duo from Wabauskang First Nation in northwestern Ontario is working with a Canadian and Nicaraguan charity to do good work both abroad, and at home. 

Terri Meekis and her 10-year-old daughter Kiera Cameron, recently returned from a 10-day trip to Nicaragua with the education charity SchoolBOX. The pair went as part of a program through the charity, specifically designed for young Indigenous volunteers and were able to take part in a cultural exchange and to help build a school. 

For Meekis, it was her second trip to Nicaragua with the charity, but the first time bringing her young daughter. 

"I wanted her to experience something new and also to help share her culture and for her to be involved in a volunteer experience," said Meekis.

"I just want her to know that she's capable of helping other people."  

The trip was lots of fun, she said, but while the project in Nicaragua is finished, their work at home is just beginning.
Kiera Cameron and her mother Terri Meekis had the chance to share their Indigenous culture as part of a charity trip to Nicaragua. (SchoolBOX)

New library the goal

This fall, Meekis and Cameron are working with SchoolBOX to bring a new library to their own community of Wabauskang, located about 120 kilometres northeast of Kenora.

It will be the charity's first education project in an Indigenous community in Canada. 

"I think it's great," said Meekis.

"And all of these books that are being donated by SchoolBOX will have Indigenous content, so that the youth can read about their culture and hopefully the community members will be involved as well." 

The plan is to install the library as part of the community's youth centre, which is currently being renovated, she said. 
Kiera Cameron says one of her favourite parts of the trip was playing with local children. (SchoolBOX)

The access to books could make a big difference in a small community which also does not have its own school. Elementary school students take a half-hour bus ride to the Township of Ear Falls to attend class. 

Better access to books at home would be welcome, said Cameron. 

"I think that would be nice because I kind of like some books that are from my school, and I'm really hoping for a library that will come here for Wabauskang," she said. 

This fall the donated books should arrive and shelves will be installed for them at the youth centre, said Meekis. As part of the project, she will also be working with Indigenous youth in the community to paint a mural on a wall of the building.