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Knights bring Coats program to Canada’s Indigenous communities

Indigenous kid in New Brunswick gets coat from Knights of Columbus

Jamie Bard | Photo by Jamie Bard

John Burger - published on 12/12/23

After distributing their millionth coat in Denver, the Knights, including a former New Brunswick lieutenant governor, carry on the tradition up north.
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Soon after distributing the one millionth coat in its longstanding Coats for Kids program, Knights of Columbus members brought the gift of winter warmth to Indigenous children in need in western and maritime Canada. 

“There’s a real need for winter clothing in our communities, just as there is for all kinds of support, and we’re happy to help where we can,” says Graydon Nicholas, a member of the Maliseet First Nation and former Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick (in photo above). “We have more than 200,000 Knights across Canada who want to help others and are modeling their lives on Jesus Christ. Charity and faith are what unite us to our neighbors and especially to those in need.” 

Nicholas, a former board member of the Knights of Columbus, led a group of 12 Knights to distribute more than 100 coats to Mah-Sos School in Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick, near the border with Maine. 

Coats for Kids recipient in Saskatchewan
Young recipient of Coats for Kids program tries on new apparel in Fond-du-Lac, Saskatchewan.

On the other side of the country, Larry Packet, State Deputy for the Knights of Columbus in Saskatchewan, flew into Fond-du-Lac, Saskatchewan, with fellow Knights to deliver close to 500 coats to members of the Dene First Nations of Prince Albert Grand Council

“There’s great joy in being a Knight because there’s joy in helping others who might have a need that we can assist with,” said Packet, Saskatchewan State Deputy for the Knights of Columbus. “Fr. Cornelius Ngurukwem from Our Lady of Seven Sorrows invited us to make the long journey so that we could help members of the local First Nations communities and encourage men from his parish to open a Knights of Columbus council. There was no way we’d say no, and the support we’ve received from our fellow members across the province has been nothing short of remarkable.” 

Last month, the Knights celebrated its one millionth coat donation at a similar event in Denver, Colorado. Since the first Coats for Kids fundraiser in 2009, Knights have distributed coats in 49 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces — including on Native American and First Nation reserves throughout both countries. Knights of Columbus councils have distributed over 100,000 coats to children in need each year since 2017 and are on pace to distribute 200,000 coats in 2023. Canadian Knights donated more than 25,000 coats in the 2022-2023 fraternal year. 

The two Canadian events were part of a Native Solidarity initiative launched by the Knights of Columbus in 2019 to walk more closely in dialogue and charity with Indigenous brothers and sisters.

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