Wakefielder reconciles and reconnects
Updated: Oct 14, 2021
Money raised, goods delivered to First Nations' community still in need
When Mathieu Goodman began collecting donations for a supply run to Wemotaci on Sept. 12, he had no idea he was about to set off on his own personal journey of reconciliation.
Goodman, a Wakefielder, reconnected with his own Montagnais heritage and got an emotional reunion with his biological father 20 years in the making.
“It was life-changing,” Goodman said of the long-awaited reunion with his father.
When Goodman made his original Facebook post on Sept. 12, the plan was to ask for donations of toiletries, feminine hygiene products, clothes, toys, and non-perishable food items, and hopefully some cash donations, which would be put towards the rental of a U-Haul and the gas to transport the items to the First Nations reserve on the north shore of the Saint-Maurice River.
Goodman had planned to make the trip with Gen Audrey, the former owner of Mama Gen’s Pizzeria in Wakefield, where he used to work. However, due to Audrey’s busy schedule, she was unable to go at the last minute.
That was when Goodman made the snap decision to reach out to his half-sister, Sao Germain, whom he hadn’t seen since he was 13, but had kept in contact with over the phone.
“It worked out really well, we're very similar,” Goodman said.
On the over six-hour drive from Wakefield to Wemotaci on Sept. 29, Goodman and Germain spent much of the time catching up, until Germain mentioned that she had the cellphone number for their shared father Michel Germain and that he lived an hour away from their destination, in La Tuque.
Goodman’s biological father is a member of Montagnais-Innu nation and a survivor of the Pointe Bleue residential school, which was active until 1991.
“It was really emotional, I could tell that he still had a lot of trauma that he was working on,” Goodman said. “He said he always knew that me and my sister would come back to reconcile.”
‘A necessity is a luxury’
Goodman is already planning another supply run to Wemotaci in December and is working with Wakefield Elementary to gather donations — not just for things like diapers, clothing, and food, but toys and other gifts to bring a little bit of Christmas cheer.
While Goodman won’t be growing out a beard and purchasing a red suit for the trip, a sleigh might be more practical than the rented U-Haul when navigating the dirt road in winter, which leads into and out of Wemotaci.
Goodman said that, when he arrived in the community, he realized his work had only just begun.
“What I thought was a necessity is a luxury in the community,” Goodman said. “I'm so privileged to have grown up in Wakefield, I had no idea,"
Even though the U-Haul Goodman had driven up was “packed to the teeth” with toiletries, feminine hygiene products, clothes, toys, and non-perishable food items, he said he realized that the community was in desperate need of diapers for children aged five to six. Goodman immediately drove into town and bought every box he could find.
“I’ve spoken to the band council to talk about building a cabin on site for storage and potentially a self-sustaining garden and youth centre,” Goodman said. “There are a few families that I've spoken to and asked them to send me a list of what they would need for a month and use it as a guide.”
Along with his December donation drive with Wakefield Elementary, Goodman said he hopes to raise extra funds to start his own Indigenous production company, Kokom Donations, and buy a camera to begin work on a documentary film detailing his journey. He also hopes to purchase a CRV with a trailer hitch in order to save money on rented U-Hauls.
If you would like to make a donation, you can visit Goodman’s GoFundMe at www.gofundme.com/f/future-projects-for-wemotaci-and-other-communities.