Students at Fort Resolution’s Deninu School now have extra food to get them through the day thanks to the efforts of one of their peers.
The charge for snacks was led by 13-year-old Marlin Miersch-King, a Grade 9 student at the school.
Having attended a retreat in Yellowknife this past July with Smash – an NWT organization that engages Indigenous men and boys on gender equality and gender-based violence – Miersch-King came home to Fort Resolution tasked with completing a community project.
It didn’t take long to decide getting snacks for his classmates was the way to go.
“I’d notice some kids would be groaning and moaning, saying how they’re hungry and if there’s any snacks left, or they’d just be really tired,” Miersch-King told Cabin Radio.
“Some kids come in a little late, and maybe they don’t have time to eat at home – or maybe they don’t have food at home.”
Miersch-King spent the final days of his summer vacation meeting with community leaders and fundraising to buy extra snacks for his school. He and his grandmother sent letters requesting help to the Deninu Kue First Nation, local Métis council, and the Fort Resolution hamlet office.
The three organizations each contributed $500 within two days, giving Miersch-King $1,500 for snacks.
“I was really happy,” Miersch-King said. “At first, I was kind of hesitant, but when I asked them, they had no hesitation of reading my note and donating, so I was really proud.”
‘A pretty terrific student’
Miersch-King used the cash to order food like bananas, oranges, crackers, cheese strings, and Rice Krispie snacks. The school received its first shipment this past Monday.
There are enough funds for two more orders.
Deninu School principal Lynette De Maries praised Miersch-King’s efforts.
“Marlin is a very empathetic student,” she said. “He often thinks of others and how they’re feeling. So, coming from him, I knew that he would carry through on the project and see it to its end.
“He’s a pretty terrific student to have here as a role model.”
Covid-19 has affected the school’s food programming, according to De Maries. Pre-pandemic, a hot breakfast was served buffet-style each morning. Now, staff and volunteers package individual meals and distribute them to students to ensure social distancing.
For kids arriving later in the day or without food of their own, getting through a school day can be hard.
“There are some students who, depending on their family circumstances, don’t get any breakfast,” De Maries said.
“It’s catching the students who haven’t been here in the morning and haven’t gotten anything to eat … and making sure that they have brain food.”
For mom Brandie Miersch, it’s been great seeing her son step into a leadership role.
“It’s amazing that this is the community project that he wanted to take on,” Miersch said. “The Smash program has, I think, taught us both a lot.
“We’re extremely happy to be part of the community of Fort Resolution, and I’m very proud of him.”
Asked to explain the thought process behind choosing snacks to help his classmates, Miersch-King’s answer was simple.
“They’re my friends,” he said. “I think every kid should have a full stomach, not an empty one.”