Elders gather for festive cheer

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo John Peterson, left, Fredrick Beaulieu, Wanda Beaulieu, and Amy Mercredi enjoy last week's buffet lunch put on for community elders at the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre.

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo
John Peterson, left, Fredrick Beaulieu, Wanda Beaulieu, and Amy Mercredi enjoy last week’s buffet lunch put on for community elders at the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre.

The Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre opened its doors Dec. 4 for its annual elders’ Christmas lunch, taking in more than 50 visitors, as well as an army of volunteers.

“It’s a good social event for young and old,” said co-ordinator Ida Studney. “It’s great for new arrivals in the community to come out and interact with long-time residents … everyone is welcome.”

The tradition has been going strong for nearly half a century and has always been one of the mainstays of the holiday season in the community. This year, the South Mackenzie Correctional Centre sent workers to set up and cook all the turkeys, with the rest of the meal also donated by various groups and individuals. Students from local schools also volunteered to help cook, decorate and set up for the event.

“We get between 50 and 100 people every year,” said Studney, noting that this year’s turnout was looking pretty low. “It’s early in the afternoon though, and we welcome people to come in and out throughout the day.”

Many diners said the luncheon was an annual event in their holiday calendars, and for John Peterson, a good opportunity to eat a solid meal without having to cook while his wife is out of town.

“It’s an awesome lunch, and I understand it’s all donated, which is great,” said Amy Mercredi.

Roger Candow said he is always most impressed with how the community comes together.

“It’s a real group effort,” he said. “All the food is donated by the volunteers and the kids come out to help too.”

-Sarah Ladik