Kahnawake fundraiser raises money to educate Indigenous health-care students

It’s been eight years since Iohahiio Delisle and Carla Skye lost their child, Karonhiaráhstha, to SIDS.

Ever since, they’ve held an annual Winter Wonderland fundraiser in her memory in Kahnawake, the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community south of Montreal.

The money they raise goes to a scholarship that funds young Indigenous health-care students.

Delisle says Indigenous people don’t have the same access to healthcare, but that this event can help address that.

“If we’re going to combat systemic (racism), then we can also do it by encouraging those positions be filled with professional Indigenous health-care workers,” said Delisle. Still, he says “It’s like opening a wound every year.”

At their last Winter Wonderland, which was held before the pandemic, they raised roughly $80 thousand.

This year, they’re hoping to raise even more.

The fundraiser works by stuffing donated gifts under trees. The gifts come from a wide range of places, including businesses, and other families – all in memory of Karonhiaráhstha.

So far, the family has helped 72 doctors, nurses, and health-care workers go to school.

“I guess the whole community grieves with us,” said Skye, “It’s a happy time, but it’s also a sad time.”

“Those funds are going to be used in a positive way for Kahnawake,” said Winter Wonderland volunteer Dale Jacobs. Which is going to affect “the next generation, and the next,” he said, “because we’re always looking towards the future. “

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