Ryan Day (l) and Johnny Perry, two of the founders of the Helping Our Urban K’wséltkten (Family) Indigenous feast, in January 2020. The fifth annual feast, in January 2021, will look different to previous ones, and organizers are fundraising to provide meal vouchers to Downtown Eastside residents. (Submitted photo)

Ryan Day (l) and Johnny Perry, two of the founders of the Helping Our Urban K’wséltkten (Family) Indigenous feast, in January 2020. The fifth annual feast, in January 2021, will look different to previous ones, and organizers are fundraising to provide meal vouchers to Downtown Eastside residents. (Submitted photo)

Urban feast with Bonaparte roots will hit the DTES streets in January

The feast helps Downtown Eastside residents, and in 2021 will be providing meal vouchers and goodies

An initiative to help residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) with roots in the Bonaparte Band near Clinton will celebrate its fifth anniversary in January 2021, but it will look a little different.

For the past four years, the Helping Our Urban K’wséltkten (Family) Indigenous feast (HOUK) has provided Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents of the DTES with traditional First Nations food such as moose stew, and essentials like warm socks and gloves.

However, Johnny Perry — a Bonaparte Band member who has worked for Vancouver Native Housing for years, and is one of the event’s co-founders — says this feast has had to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19.

The usual drop-in, sit-down dinner, for instance, won’t happen in 2021.

“We were a little leery about doing a feast and getting people together,” he explains.

Former Bonaparte Kukpi7 (Chief) Ryan Day — another of the feast’s founders — suggested they take it to the streets instead.

“It’s about connecting with people, and we can do it safely on the street and reach people. We’ll be handing out bags of goodies, whether that be traditional foods, toiletries, or warm clothes. They’ll get a bag of sweet treats and a voucher for a meal at the Evelyn Saller Centre.”

READ MORE: Residents of North Bonaparte Road frustrated by ongoing road issues

The centre, on the outskirts of the DTES, is subsidized by the City of Vancouver, and is one of the DTES hubs.

“People can do free laundry there, get haircuts, get meals. Dinner, for example, is soup or salad, entrée, dessert, and coffee or tea, all for $2. With just three Toonies, you can feed three people.”

Perry and others have raised more than $6,000 meal vouchers, bottles of water and snacks for the DTES residents.

“Over the summer, when COVID-19 first hit, we said ‘We have to do something for our people, we can’t let them hang out until January when we do the feast.’ The need is all year, not just at Christmas,” Perry said.

Water and fresh fruit are appreciated by DTES residents, he said.

“People say ‘I haven’t had berries in so long.’ Raspberries are a luxury for people. And there are a limited number of water fountains in the DTES, especially with COVID-19, so people really appreciated bottles of water.

The focus has now turned to the January feast, and what that will look like. Donations of traditional foods are down this year, but Perry was back at Bonaparte in August and canned peaches, as well as more than 100 jars of salmon, which is one of his contributions. Day chopped and split wood and did a draw, with the winner getting the firewood delivered, and raised $1,000 toward meal vouchers.

“That was great and gave us a little push. I know people want to donate, but they need to take care of their families first. I get that. It’s been challenging for us this year because people are obviously not in a great financial state.

“Now’s not the time to give up on our folks. They need the love and kindness right now, and with everyone doing their part we’ll get there.”

Perry says simple donations of warm socks and gloves demonstrate that love and kindness.

“Those are two things we really need. The demand is really great at this time of year.”

The fifth HOUK event will probably take place around the weekend of Jan. 16.

At the beginning of the pandemic, he says there were fears that COVID-19 was going to hit the DTES hard. “We were expecting the worst. It didn’t hit like we thought it would, but in October we started to see the numbers spiking a bit. DTES people carry around a lot of pain and trauma, but it’s really not what people have predicted and thought. People are still being taken care of, there are lots of testing centres and hand sanitizer, masks are being given out. You’d think people don’t care, but everyone is wearing masks. They’re following the rules as well and doing the best they can.”

He says the fifth HOUK event will probably take place around the weekend of Jan. 16, over several days in different areas of the DTES. “I’ve connected with some great people who will contribute to the fundraiser and drop off socks and gloves. It typically happens at the last minute, so I’m not worried. We’re going to do what we can; that’s all we can do.

“It’s been really challenging for everyone, but there are lessons in there about taking care of each other more,” he said. “That’s what it really comes down to.”

To donate, a GoFundMe page has been set up at https://bit.ly/39P81Ua. E-Transfers (preferred, as there is no commission taken on them) can be sent to johnnyperry2013@gmail.com.


newsroom@100milefreepress.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Christmas

Just Posted

John Archie plans to share his experiences of residential school and life on the rez at an event on June 19. (Kelly Sinoski photo -100 Mile Free Press)
Tsq’escen to share stories of ‘life on the rez’

John Archie to share his experiences in event Saturday

100 Mile House Fire Rescue responds to a grass fire on private property near Canim-Hendrix Road. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Small fire off Canim-Hendrix Road extinguished

The small grass fire was reported by neighbours and quickly brought under control

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A Category 3 fire ban will go into effect across the entire Cariboo Fire Centre beginning noon on Monday, June 21. (Pixaby photo)
Category 3 fire ban extends across entire Cariboo Fire Centre June 21

Campfires are still permitted, but no larger than half a metre high by half a metre wide

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read