Breakfast Club of Canada is celebrating its 15th year of partnership with the Air Canada Foundation, a partnership that has helped grow its reach outside of the province of Quebec into a national organization serving healthy meals to more than 250,000 students a day.
“Air Canada aims to reflect Canadian’s values, which embody those of unity and diversity,” says Air Canada Foundation spokesperson Valerie Durand. “In setting up these programs, it was important for us to support as many communities as possible, including Indigenous communities. Breakfast Club of Canada was already doing it through their programs, so it was a perfect alignment.”
Since their relationship began, the Air Canada Foundation has invested more than $1.2 million dollars and their contributions to BCC have helped them serve close to 2 million breakfasts to more than 11,000 students. In addition, 1,500 Indigenous students from high-need communities in Alberta and Manitoba now have access to healthy food options via newly established school breakfast programs.
In 2019, the Air Canada Foundation also committed to funding the opening of two priority breakfast programs in the Northwest Territories and Yukon. They are also sustaining three breakfast programs in remote schools by covering the costs of food purchases and kitchen equipment.
“Our mission is the health and wellness of kids and we do this through three main pillars: helping sick kids get better, alleviating child poverty and making dreams come true,” explains Durand.
When it comes to that last pillar of making dreams come true, Durand points to the Shooting for the Stars initiative. Every year, three to four Indigenous youth from British Columbia enjoy a trip to Montreal to meet their hockey idol, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. Children are selected from communities where Price played hockey as a youth.
As an FNMI ambassador for BCC, Price is a role model for young people across the country, but especially for those who share his Indigenous heritage. Clowery says that the five-year Shooting for the Stars initiative was a real highlight of the organizations’ partnership and one that has had a real impact on the communities that the children come from.
“Air Canada was one of the first partners to help us with funding for the Indigenous community and that was a huge milestone for us,” says Clowery. “Over the years, every time we needed them to be part of something, they’ve always raised their hand.”
“We are extremely grateful for our relationship with the Air Canada Foundation and we just want to continue to grow and soar with them and see what other horizons we can achieve together,” says Clowery.