89-year-old knits mitts for Dress Purple Day

DRYDEN, ON — Mavis Rushak, an 89-year-old from Dryden, ON, has been keeping her hands busy this month, knitting mitts, toques, and sweaters for First Nation children and youth.

“All children matter,” said Rushak, who is also a former foster parent.

The donation is timed perfectly for Tikinagan Child and Family Services’ Dress Purple Day, which raises awareness about the important role that individuals and communities play in supporting vulnerable children, youth, and families. Dress Purple Day celebrates a community that cares for families and share the message that help is available and no one is alone.

Rushak says providing this type of support makes her feel good knowing some children will be warm this winter.

“I love knitting for children,” she said. “I wish I could do more.” 

All the mitts, toques, and sweaters will be donated to Mishkeegogamang First Nation, which is located more than 325 kilometres northeast from Rushak.

Rushak’s donation is one way how she is part of Tikinagan’s Wee-chee-way-win Circle: community members who support the well-being of children, youth, and families. The Wee-chee-way-win Circle may include the child’s parents and siblings, extended family members, the First Nation Chief and Council, Elders, the school principal and teachers, workers from other community resources, Foster Parents, other caregivers, and Tikinagan workers. Although each has a different role in a child’s circle, the success of a child’s emotional security depends on teamwork. By working together in mutual cooperation and respect, a circle of healing will surround the child. The Wee-chee-way-win Circle is an integral element of Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin.

Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin, which means “Everyone working together to raise our children,” is the Tikinagan service model and works to keep families together, maintain our culture and respects the inherent authority of First Nations to care for our own children. Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin is rooted in our traditional customs of caring for children. In our culture, children are regarded as sacred gifts from the Creator, not only to the family but also to the larger community of extended family members. Everyone shares in the responsibility of protecting and caring for that child.

To learn more about Dress Purple day, visit, tikinagan.org/DPD.