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How Shoes of Hope is helping support Calgary-area Indigenous communities


A prairie-based not-for-profit handed out close to 100 pairs of shoes to Indigenous community members in the Calgary area on Tuesday as part of an initiative paying tribute to residential school survivors.

Tipi of Hope presented the shoes to the Metis Nation of Alberta and Tsuut'ina Nation's healthy living program as part of a program called Shoes of Hope.

"Initially, we were looking at the shoe memorials that were being placed across Canada in relation to the unmarked graves (at residential school) and wanting to really move that forward in a new and different way," said Melissa Lundy, Tipi of Hope Foundation founder and president.

"What we thought of was, instead of the memorials being placed and then being thrown away, how can we take the image of shoes and enhance it in a whole new way?"

"Today's donation is from Canadian Footwear," said Lundy. "It's a $12,000 brand new shoe donation."

She said the donation went to the Tsuut'ina Nation as well as the Metis Nation of Alberta, two communities who both expressed "a real need" to help advance their communities.

Kristen Acuna works with Metis youth, and says the shoe donation will make a difference in her community.

"I think of Truth and Reconciliation, the first thing that pops in my head is not shoes," she said. "But to give a kid confidence, helping a kid get a hand up, to me that's Truth and Reconciliation."

September Daniels is a member of Tsuut'ina Nation's young adult outreach peer support, and says it made her feel "blessed" to see the email stating they had been picked.

"It made me feel very vulnerable, where it made me realize that this is something that we need as people, that we need that bridge to be built with others coming in to help us with our healing."

Daniels says the shoe donation will be put to good use in her community.

"We have families, individuals that we help every day, that are in need," she said. "We always get asked, 'Can I get some shoes? Do you have any boots that I can wear? Any runners that I can wear?' This is why I was so happy that we got these 46 pairs."

Lundy says the new shoe donation is a way to help the Indigenous  and non-Indigenous  communities heal, and would like to see Shoes of Hope expand.

"We hope to be able to partner with many other communities across Canada, including Inuit communities," she said. "To really make a tangible difference by bringing all the Indigenous  communities together alongside us with the non-Indigenous people to be able to advance reconciliation."

Karen Lundy is Melissa's mom, and is on the board of directors for the Tipi of Hope Foundation.

She says this program is more than a memorial on the steps to a government facility, because it can help to heal the greater community.

"(The donations show) people receiving the shoes that we didn't put them on the steps to represent the people that are lost, we're representing the people that are living through it every day," she said.

"Then they're walking, knowing these shoes are supporting them in just a little way maybe, but to us, it's a lot."

To learn more about the Tipi of Hope, you can visit the foundation's website. Top Stories

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