As the primary caretaker for her mother, working from home, and now an at-home-educator for her son and foster daughter, Candice Cook is navigating the many obstacles of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cook is a Sealaska shareholder descendant from Hydaburg who lives in the Seattle area. As she saw the effects of the pandemic over the course of the past month, her thoughts kept going back to her hometown.
“Hydaburg is special to me because this is where my father’s side of my family is from. I miss the Elders, the people, and the sense of community. I miss the culture and subsistence food,” said Cook as she reflected on the importance of her Alaska Native roots.
Cook has been able to share the magic of Hydaburg with her work family at MCQ LLC, a Washington-based company that supplies optical frames and sunglasses to Costco. About six years ago, her boss and his wife made a quick stop in Hydaburg to visit Cook’s grandmother Alma Cook.
They were welcomed with lunch and toured the carving shed where they saw a totem pole being created. Community members sent them off with gifts of traditional foods. “It became clear to them that our people are unique and values are integral in our way of life,” explained Candice.
Cook and the team at MCQ have been worried about her family and friends in Hydaburg during this pandemic. While Hydaburg benefits from beautiful nature and tranquility, it is isolated and does not have access to many of the resources you would find in much larger cities. Cook knew that there was a way to honor and contribute to her home community.
With the support of her boss and her MCQ colleagues, Cook jumped into action. With a wish list from the people of Hydaburg, she worked with a contact at Costco to arrange the delivery of $5,500 worth of food and essential items. The Costco team worked very quickly to put the goods together and make the delivery happen. Items including rice, beans, toilet paper, and other essentials were loaded onto pallets and shipped north to Alaska by barge. Eventually the items found their way to Hydaburg and were quickly distributed to the community.
Cook is thrilled that she and MCQ could help fulfill needs in Hydaburg. Her story shows how much our Alaska Native culture, values and communities mean to all of our shareholders and descendants — even those who live far from home.