A few people from Winnipeg, including a couple of Blue Bombers, are helping the community of Shamattawa after they declared a state of emergency again last week. 

Winnipegger Greg Armstrong goes up north to Shamattawa a few times a year to bring breakfast and prayers to the community. He is also a retired chaplain.

"I was up there four weeks ago," says Armstong. "I go up with oranges and apples, and just to bring a smile to some of the kids. It's a bandaid, I know it is. I'm in the school and make smoothies. More kids come to school by the third day than did the first day. That tells me the need for friendly, non-judgmental intervention helps, but it's momentary."

The chief of Shamattawa, Jordna Hill declared a state of emergency last week after numerous suicides in the community including a mother and daughter, as well as a fire that decimated a building housing eight families. The community is 735 km north of Winnipeg. 

"The plumbing needs to be fixed in the community, but I'm not a plumber. The kind of furnaces that they have up there are diesel fuel. Many of the houses don't have heating."

Helping the community has many layers of complication, according to Armstrong. Over the past month, the police in the community have been attacked multiple times. Children aren't often going to school for multiple reasons, according to Armstrong. 

"MaryAnn Miles is the Anglican Priest up there, who does all the funerals up there. It's her church that was the last one that burnt down [in 2018]. It's three-quarters rebuilt already."

Armstrong shares that Shamattawa 'sees themselves as a Christian community.'

"We can pray all we want and preach the gospel, but if basic needs aren't met, people can't hear. The hungry stomach can't hear."

In the meantime, two of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have flown up to Shamattawa this week to spend time in the school.