Ensuring ‘no child has to go hungry’ in Regina

Women of the Dawn serves First Nations community with healthy lunches for kids, job training for women

When you ask Ivy Kennedy, director of Women of the Dawn Counselling Centre, how many lunches are consumed each year through its Come and Eat program, even she’s surprised at the high number.

Roughly 8,000 hot dogs fill the tummies of First Nations youth aged 5 to 18 in and around Regina, SK each summer. Even more remarkable—the program has been in operation for over 25 years.

That’s a lot of hot dogs, and a lot of other lunch items too.

“It’s really meaningful to the community to have this program accessible to them,” says Kennedy, who has been with Women of the Dawn since its inception.

“I meet a lot of kids who tell me they don’t have any food at home.”

Also known as the Pemisu Program, literally meaning “come and eat” in Cree, the program is one of many initiatives run by Women of the Dawn to ensure its community of 16 First Nations is looked after and prepared for the future.

The Come and Eat program hosts barbecues twice a week from May to October. After that, Women of the Dawn shifts focus to another children-focused program: KidCare.

“KidCare focuses on children and family needs around Christmas time,” says Kennedy. “If a family doesn’t have turkey dinner, we’ll provide it for them. If they can’t afford gifts, we provide presents from Santa and candy bags.”

Besides these child-centric programs, Women of the Dawn operates several others that fulfill its main mandate to get women out of poverty in Saskatchewan. These include educational opportunities, workshops and career counselling that on average help 8,400 women each year.

This year, Enbridge gave $2,500 to Women of the Dawn to support the Come and Eat program. Enbridge also previously supported the organization’s Children’s Christmas Party as part of our commitment to improving the quality of life in the areas near our operations and project.

When discussing what’s next for Women of the Dawn, Kennedy says it’s fundraising—always.

“We work tirelessly to get our programs the funding they need to train our women for job skills and make sure no child has to go hungry,” says Kennedy.

“Training these women, most of whom are mothers, is one of the only ways we think we can get our children out of poverty.”

The programs hold a near and dear place in her heart, as her own experience with poverty motivates Kennedy to push Women of the Dawn forward year in and year out.

“There’s no need for hunger, and we as a community have to do something for the kids.”