Fort St. James Indigenous Policing Section members will be delivering gift baskets to 116 on-reserve elders Saturday, Dec. 12. (Photo submitted)

Fort St. James Indigenous Policing Section members will be delivering gift baskets to 116 on-reserve elders Saturday, Dec. 12. (Photo submitted)

Fort St. James Indigenous Policing members to participate in ‘Christmas Elder Drop’

Nak’azdli Whut’en, Tl’azt’en Nation, Binche Whu’ten on-reserve elders to receive gift baskets

Fort St. James RCMP Indigenous Policing Services will be delivering holiday cheer to more than 100 Nak’azdli Whut’en, Tl’azt’en Nation and Binche Whut’en elders living on-reserve.

Constables Britni Reierson, Mathew Zuccollo, Alexandre Mercier and Jordan Barnes have been keeping busy putting together 116 gift baskets, which they will deliver on Saturday, Dec. 12.

“We have been shopping all local here in Fort St. James to support our local businesses,” Reierson said, noting she is excited.

“Myself and Const. Zuccollo went out and did the shopping and handpicked all the items ourselves.”

This will be the first year the constables have organized what they call a ‘Christmas Elder Drop’ after receiving around $8,700 in federal funding. Each basket is valued at $75.

Read More: B.C.’s rapid response paramedics arrive in Fort St. James as district reaches 60 COVID-19 cases

Before they head out to the communities Saturday morning, the constables will dress in Christmas outfits and put on a face mask. Two of the three police cruisers will also be decorated.

Because RCMP is an essential service, the constables will be able to enter Nak’azdli Whut’en, which closed its community for two weeks as of Dec. 4 due to an increase in COVID-19 cases within the Fort St. James area.

The baskets will be wrapped in plastic and placed on the elders’ porches before the constables knock on their door. From there, they will wait from a safe distance to tell the elders of their awaiting gift and wish them happy holidays.

While the COVID-19 pandemic may negatively impact all individuals’ mental health, HealthLinkBC noted self-isolation can be particularly challenging for older adults.

“We wanted to touch base and let them know that we’re thinking of them,” Reierson said of the elders.

Read More: Drive-thru, drop-off events OK under B.C.’s COVID-19 orders

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