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Toys for the North campaign ready to take flight (5 photos)

About 6,000 pounds of toys delivered to Thunder Bay on Friday for redistribution to Cat Lake and Sachigo Lake First Nations.

THUNDER BAY – Christmas is coming to the Far North and Santa Claus is coming along for the ride.

For the fifth straight year, the RCMP and North Star Air, together with the Royal Canadian Air Force, are teaming up for Toys for the North, a campaign that sees toys and other necessities collected nationwide and distributed to communities in need from both Goose Bay, N.L. and Thunder Bay.

The latter shipment will head north to Sachigo Lake First Nation and Cat Lake First Nation.

Capt. Kevin Sawyers of the Royal Canadian Air Force said it’s an honour to take part in the annual campaign, knowing the impact it has on families in some of the country’s most remote communities.

“We’ve got four pallets of almost 6,000 pounds of toys for communities in the area. It’s part of the RCMP’s initiative. They’ve asked the military to participate and move some of the larger portion of the cargo up to the communities,” Sawyers said, standing aboard the massive C-130J-30 Hercules aircraft that rumbled onto the tarmac Friday morning at Thunder Bay International Airport.

“Obviously this time of year it’s a great thing to be a part of, especially as a member of the military, to take part in something like this that’s supporting Canadians,”

The toys were unloaded off the plane and onto a waiting transport to be taken back to Gardewine’s warehouse, where they will be packaged up and then flown to the two communities next Friday on a North Star Air plane.

Karen Matson, director of marketing and communications at North Star Air, said it’s good to see things coming together for the campaign, after weeks and weeks of preparation.

Now comes the fun part, she said.

“Come Monday afternoon we’ll organize all the toys into piles for the communities we are visiting this year,” Matson said.

“Next Friday we are visiting Cat Lake First Nation and Sachigo Lake First Nation with two separate bundles of toys. We’ll also have Santa Claus with us again this year, so we’re really super looking forward to this celebration with the community.”

The toys are always welcomed, Matson added.

“There are a lot of families up north that don’t receive anything for Christmas. Hopefully this will brighten their day and make their year hopefully and make a change in the north.”

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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