Is this like the "other" shoebox project for developing countries?
Our shoebox program is completely different and unrelated. We distribute shoebox gifts always and only in the context of celebrating education — to create excitement and motivation for students about attending school and working toward their future — and also as a celebration of friendship to help foster reconciliation. We do not promote the idea of "giving to the needy", and this is why we also encourage only the donation of quality gifts. Furthermore, our charity has no religious purpose.
Instead of sending token gifts to the communities, why don’t you mobilize Canadians to support much-needed changes in infrastructure and funding for Indigenous communities?
We fully agree that Canadians need to engage in the issues that will bring systemic change to Indigenous communities. While systemic change is the goal, initiatives need to be undertaken at many levels, including through campaigns like ours, to generate discussion and awareness. That said, the shoebox is not merely about sending gifts – it is about creating friendship and connection, and raising large-scale awareness with Canadians so they will want to dig deeper and actively lend their support to issues and organizations that are creating change. Many Canadians have stayed on the sidelines because they have felt the issues to be too complex or political. The shoebox is a simple and tangible step in turning people’s attention toward home and promoting dialogue and understanding.
Is your shoebox program a Christmas project?
No. We collect gift-filled shoeboxes year-round. And while we do promote the campaign nationally in the month of November, we hold school celebration events and shoebox distributions only in the spring. Furthermore, Christmas is not a traditional Indigenous celebration and so we ask that donors be mindful of this and not pack Christmas-themed boxes to respect the culture and tradition of the child or youth who will receive the box.
Where will my shoebox go?
Our shoebox program is widespread across Canada, and the response is great. Each year we visit several communities (see the "communities" tab to see where we have been so far), however we are cautious to not overcommit — this is why we cannot announce all of the communities at once. For this reason also, we cannot guarantee your shoebox will go to a specific community.
Why do you offer a "Child-Youth" label?
This label is intended for gender-neutral boxes. Not all boys like superheroes, just as not all girls like hair bows… with this in mind, we bring some gender-neutral boxes to the communities we visit, so the students can choose according to their preference.
Is the shoebox well received in every community?
Yes it is. Before engaging with a community, we have in-depth conversations with school administrators to make certain that the program is a good fit for their school. As such, school principals are informed of what is generally provided in a gift-filled shoebox, and we also are mindful to accommodate any preferences expressed by the schools (ex. a focus on books or art supplies).
What items should not go in a shoebox?
Our "Shoebox" page provides this information. We also ask you avoid items that promote colonialism, and "Canada" branded merchandise.
Do you inspect shoeboxes?
Absolutely. We inspect primarily for safety, cultural appropriateness and fairness.
What is the $5 donation for?
The $5 donation is essential to helping us meet the high costs of travelling with our team and our shoeboxes to remote and semi-remote communities, so we can present school celebration events. Please keep in mind that only 20% of donors provide the $5 donation — this prevents us from visiting as many communities as we could.