Strapped for cash since loosing one third of their funding with the Federal Government’s decision to put an end to the Aboriginal Healing Fund, the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal has since had no choice but to try and raise funds publicly.

Fortunately, about a year ago when the shelter’s Director, Nakuset, went on the air at CKUT Radio to discuss the impacts that the loss of funds has had on the shelter, serendipity struck. Nakuset had the good fortune of meeting Inuk student Joey Flowers of the Aboriginal Law Association of the McGill Faculty of Law who was also being interviewed on the same radio program.

Inquiring about the plight of the shelter, Flowers asked Nakuset how he could help the organization when it occurred to him that, having trained previously as a chef, perhaps he and his fellow law students could help the shelter out with a dinner benefit.

Several months later, the Aboriginal Law Association of the McGill Faculty of Law are now set to put on a benefit dinner at Montreal restaurant, Nouveau Palais, located at 281 Bernard West on Sunday, March 20. They are putting on the event in conjunction with the Montreal Native Women’s Shelter (MNWS) board of directors who have created a sub committee to help plan with the fundraising event.

The title for the event is Mamuchuchinan, which means together we are strong in Naskapi, and tickets are going for a minimum contribution of $75 for a high end five to six course meal that will be based on the various different types of First Nations cuisines throughout the province. The tentative menu already includes arctic char, seal, bison or caribou or musk ox. The menu may be subject to change however.

Nakuset said that one of the major problems that those trying to plan the Mamuchuchinan event are experiencing is that they are in need of donations of meat for the event.

“As this is a fundraiser for the shelter, we don’t really want to put any money into this because then we won’t really be raising $5000 dollars. It would be $5000 minus whatever we put in for the food. We are looking for donations of meat however all of the meat that we receive for this has to be certified restaurant grade,” said Nakuset.

Though she is uncertain if it is possible, Nakuset said that she wanted to see if there was any way that communities that do hunt could get meat certified by an inspector at a meat distributor or plant and give that as a donation for the NWSM’s fundraiser.

Barring that, Nakuset and the law students have also been approaching meat distributors for donations and are taking cash donations to cover the costs of whatever meat they may have to purchase for the event.

In that they are also looking to include a silent auction at the Mamuchuchinan event, the shelter would also be deeply appreciative of donations of Native crafts such as mittens, moccasins, carvings and anything else people would like to donate. All of the proceeds of the silent auction will go directly to helping the NWSM.

“We really need this money because of what we lost from the Aboriginal Healing Fund (AHF), we are desperate. I have been working like a crazy woman all over Montreal, writing letters to Indian Affairs, to the Regie Regional, to Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Montreal and everyone else I can think of to say where is the money? We have been working so hard to try and get some of this money back because we need it,” said Nakuset.

The AHF provided funding was an Aboriginal managed national fund that supported community-based healing efforts addressing the intergenerational legacy of physical and sexual abuse in Canada’s Indian Residential School System. Established in 1998, the organization had been supporting 134 community projects nationally. Without warning, the Federal Government killed the program as of March 31, 2010.

For the NWSM, this funding went to pay for art therapy programs and therapists as well as a number of other outreach services that the shelter used to provide.

Without it, the shelter is often between a rock and a hard place.

“Right now we are having a really difficult time with clients that don’t have their status. If someone doesn’t have their status and they are in a crisis, we can’t tell them not to go see our psychotherapist. Instead what we are doing is having our psychotherapist see all of the clients that have status and bill that to Health Canada but then we pay out of pocket when the client doesn’t have status and isn’t eligible,” said Nakuset.

Those looking to purchase tickets to the benefit dinner or make a contribution to help out with the fundraiser can Melissa Isaac at 514-465-6026 or via email at