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On March 8, excitement ran high for students at Ulluriaq School in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik, as they hosted the Gatineau-based charity I Love First Peoples for an all-day school celebration event.

Last fall, I Love First Peoples collected over 10,000 gift-filled shoeboxes, many of them filled by students in urban schools, such as St. Edmunds Elementary School in Beaconsfield and Symmes-D’Arcy McGee High School in Gatineau, Quebec. The shoeboxes are being distributed to 20 remote and semi-remote Indigenous communities across Canada.

When opening the shoeboxes, students at Ulluriaq School were thrilled to see pictures and videos that had been packed for them. They really felt the connection created by this gesture of friendship,” said Josée Lusignan, President and founding-member of I Love First Peoples.

I Love First Peoples is a Canadian registered charity, with 30 chapters across the country, that empowers Indigenous youth to succeed in school, through projects that foster reconciliation.

I Love First Peoples also partnered with Inuit actor and champion Arctic games athlete Johnny Issaluk who delivered a powerful workshop to students. His personal and professional journey, his role as an ambassador for the Inuit culture and the stories he shared about survival in the Arctic environment were truly inspirational.

The day ended with a community event during which the film, Indian Horse was premiered ahead of its April release in theatres across Canada. The movie features Johnny Issaluk.