VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — In addition to transitioning a for-profit catering business to a non-profit to feed homeless communities in Vancouver, Makeda Martin has not had time to mourn the passing of her niece Regis Korchinski-Paquet.
On May 27, Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Indigenous-Black woman, fell to her death from a balcony while Toronto police were in her apartment attending to a wellness check.
Despite the months that have passed, Korchinski-Paquet’s aunt Makeda Martin says, “I can’t mourn.”
Martin says Korchinski-Paquet’s death is not the only loved one who has passed away recently. Her nephew and five other people within her family and circle of friends have died.
“It’s been tough.”
But before the Korchinski-Paquet’s death, the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting Martin’s new business called Coast to Coast Catering.
In response, she says she decided to “take lemons and make lemonade” as she rebranded as a non-profit, Mama Bear’s Kitchen, to instead feed homeless people in Vancouver.
“Despite all the sadness and the bad things that can happen down here, here’s an opportunity for us to put an end to the food deserts and serve quality food to people who need it more than that many because they suffer so many health issues,” she says.
Martin says thankfully she was “lucky” she didn’t have a fully stocked kitchen and staff since the business so she didn’t pursue contracts.
Although she says, she never would have expected to end up doing what she does now.
“I have a background in psychology and sociology as well. So avoiding a job in social work only to be here in the bullseye of social working capacity in Canada, so it’s like the creator says, ‘I don’t care what you think. This is what you’re going to do.'”
Now, you can see Martin, also known to the people in the Downtown Eastside and Strathcona Park as “Mama Bear,” working hard to distribute food safely.
“I wake up every day, passionate about coming to work. [But] it’s not work for me. It’s what brings me joy.”
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PLEASE DONATE & SHARE! makeda martin, a black indigenous freedom fighter, community leader & feeder, artist, and matriarch needs immediate support! her community program, mama bear’s kitchen, feeds folks in strathcona and DTES. you may recognize her from crab park, where she was nourishing and hydrating residents. she gives food to literally anyone who pops by (or even WALKS by) her spot while she cooks all day long. she is a ray of sunshine who never stops working and serving her community. her initiative needs funding in order to keep working as efficiently and stress-free as possible. all the money for mama bear’s kitchen comes from the community and her own pocket. a lot of the work is solely on her shoulders, as volunteers and supplies are hard to gather in abundance. in addition to this, she is the aunt of regis korchinski-paquet and hasn’t been able to mourn her loss. she planned to take a flight out to toronto two days ago and had no choice but to stay here in vancouver because her program wouldn’t have been able to run while she was away. LET THAT SINK IN. she lost her niece to toronto police and WAS UNABLE TO ATTEND HER MEMORIAL because her program would have fallen apart without her while she was gone. it is up to us, as the community, to lift her up BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. right now that mean is financial. swipe to the next slide to figure out how to donate to both her program and flight fees so she can be with her family during this time. justice for regis also means helping to make the healing journey a little easier for the family. vancouver has done what it does best — sleep on the needs of black and indigenous folks — but this cannot go on ANY LONGER. folks who want to bring #justiceforregis MUST REMEMBER this also means supporting the family in any way they need it!! image description will be the first comment in this post’s comments section. #justiceforregis #blacklivesmatter #fuck12
Thanks to an Instagram user @thehabeshaman who shared Martin’s story and information about her community program, Mama Bear’s Kitchen has received hundreds of donations.
“It’s been nothing short of miraculous,” she says.
“When you do things altruistically, you forget that other people are looking at you and commending you, but I don’t do it for that reason I’d rather remain anonymous,” Martin added.
Apart from donating to the community program, the Instagram post that reached thousands also suggested making donations to Martin directly so she can have the opportunity to fly to Ontario to mourn her niece.
Thanks to these donations, she will be able to finally spend time with her grieving family.