Toronto

Idle No More-inspired charity still has impact in Allan Gardens

The Allan Gardens Food & Clothing Share is one of the local initiatives sparked by Idle No More. Originally founded by a small group of Indigenous people in 2013, it has blossomed into a weekly meeting where hot meals and clothing are made available for those in need.

Allan Gardens Food & Clothing Share offers hot meals and clothing for those in need

The Allan Gardens Food & Clothing Share has blossomed into a weekly meeting where hot meals and clothing are made available for those in need. (CBC)

Five years after Idle No More first made headlines, the effects of the movement are still being felt across Canada.

Calling for Indigenous sovereignty and the protection of land and water, Idle No More brought together Indigenous people across the country, including right here in Toronto.

The Allan Gardens Food & Clothing Share is one of the local initiatives sparked by Idle No More. Originally founded by a small group of Indigenous people in 2013, it has blossomed into a weekly meeting where hot meals and clothing are made available for those in need.

Indigenous water protector and land defender Sigrid Kneve says the initiative is an example of the type of community involvement that came out of Idle No More and that the movement isn't slowing down anytime soon.
Sigrid Kneve, an Indigenous water protector and land defender, says the Allan Gardens Food & Clothing Share is an example of the type of initatives that came out of Idle No More. (CBC)

"It's just getting started," she told CBC Toronto. "Many of the youth that are coming up are educated and they know the history and they want to make changes."

'There's a need for it'

Today, the food and clothing share has also drawn large support from those outside of the Indigenous community and has since been taken over by other volunteers in the Allan Gardens community.

Guibir Bal is one of volunteers that made it to Sunday's food and clothing share. She regularly takes part in the weekly event with friends bringing rice, chickpeas, samosas and other foods.
Guibir Bal volunteers with friends, bringing rice, chickpeas, samosas and other foods. (CBC)

"I think there's a need for it," Bal said of the share. "If the need wasn't there, they wouldn't be here."

The food and clothing share is part of a bigger community building effort in the park to help those who need help the most, organizer Edward Lutz says.
The Allan Gardens Food & Clothing Share has been taken over by other volunteers in the Allan Gardens community. (CBC)

"It's not just, 'I'm out on the street freezing.' It's 'We're all out here. Let's keep each other warm, let's keep each other safe. Let's take care of each other,'" Lutz said. "At the heart of it, that's what we want to promote here, that building of community."

'We help each other'

It has achieved its goal with Raylah Moonias, a regular who often visits for a hot meal. Moonias says the share feels like home and a community.

"Almost everybody here knows each other and we look out for each other. We help each other," Moonias said. "If someone needs support we'll hug them or lend an ear to them."
Kneve, who also recently took part in a vigil for Indigenous youth suicides, says she'd like to see people warm and fed and living a good life, adding people giving back to the community isn't going to stop.

"More and more people, allies are coming on board. Non-Indigenous people to support and make change," Kneve said. "So Idle No More is still alive and the good work is still going on."

With files from Talia Ricci