Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata is collecting graduation dresses, suits, shoes, and accessories so that Indigenous youth can feel included by joining their classmates to end their high school careers.
Last summer, Kathy Hebert, the training and development coordinator at Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata, came up with the idea to collect graduation outfits so Indigenous students have the chance to join in on the special occasion.
After the announcement was made in January, the response from the public has been incredible, Hebert is amazed at how many people have donated to help with the barrier that Indigenous youth face.
Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata is already seen as a huge community parent that provides many programs to take care of, encourage and bring together many people. The graduation dress and suit drive is just another way they are caring for their community and allowing Indigenous youth to experience this special day.
Currently, Hebert says they have already collected over 300 dresses, and more than 100 suits and have received some shoes and accessories as well. With this large amount of clothes donated, the organization is now looking for a storage space to keep its current stock and for future donations.
"My one girl, Taylor, that I had with me from the beginning of this, she was the first grad that reached out," says Hebert. "So, she's kind of my model through this whole thing and just seeing the smile on her face and just hearing her story and that she's graduating, she's overcome so much and she should just be able to feel so special that day."
It warms Hebert's heart to see how many people are out there wanting to help and do good for a community that struggles. It makes her proud.
The plan for the graduation outfit collection drive is once grads have used the dresses and suits, shoes and accessories, they donate them back so that the next year of graduates can experience the same joy.
Hebert is just starting to go through their current stock to figure out what sizes they need more of, but all sizes, colours and shapes are welcome to be donated.
She also adds that hairdressers have already reached out to offer their services for the Indigenous graduates, and she is looking into finding photographers and makeup artists that would be willing to donate their time to this amazing cause.
Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at 445 King Street, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org.