Providing menstrual products to northern communities

Moon Time Connections volunteers sorting and counting donated menstrual products to be shipped north.

By Regan Treewater, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – When career Registered Social Worker, Nicole White read a news-article one day back in early 2017, she could not have anticipated the journey that it would catalyze. “I’m not the sort of person who can sit still and not do anything if there’s a problem,” she explained in a recent telephone interview with Alberta Native News.

The story talked about northern and remote Indigenous communities in her home-province of Saskatchewan, and a very surprising obstacle being faced. “Students were missing school because they didn’t have access to menstruation supplies.  They had no other option but to miss school because of something completely natural.” White sprang to action, and that is how Moon Time Connections found its start.

“The barrier is availability, but it’s also cost. For remote and northern Indigenous communities stores just might not be able to get menstruation products on the shelves, and when they do, something that might cost five dollars in Saskatoon suddenly costs fifteen. This makes things like tampons and pads luxury items,” White emphasized. “Within a month-and-a-half of starting out we had sent      100,000 products to communities just in Treaty Six.”

Since then, the one-woman-operation has grown to become a team of four servicing seven provinces and three territories across Canada. Together they’ve supplied Communities across the country with over four million menstrual products. White has built a team who orchestrate supportive programming in addition to providing much needed supplies free of cost.

“We work to empower leaders within these communities to be resources of knowledge,” she noted. “We’ve developed an online training course that consists of four modules targeting people who menstruate. Each module is geared towards addressing the needs of a specific age group.”

In close consultation with medical professionals and community leaders, Moon Time Connections has begun helping to promote body positive agency for people who menstruate with information about their own health via their Moon Time Facilitator training program.

“We work closely with an OBGYN, and we can equip people with pain charts so that they can be more aware of their body rhythms and what is normal for them,” explained White. “This way people are able to better understand what to expect from a period and gauge any discomfort accordingly. The pain charts are an incredibly useful tool for individuals to know if they might need to seek immediate medical care.”

After receiving formal training about how to best support people who menstruate, facilitators in northern and remote Indigenous communities work to create safe spaces for dialogue and education. “Sometimes the local contacts that approach us for training are community nurses, social workers, school counselors – those on the ground who have the relationships with those experiencing period inequity,” added White. Facilitators outfit their contacts with supplies to introduce the variety of products available.

“The packs are discrete, and we made sure that they’re compact enough to put in a backpack, a school locker, or a glove compartment. There are pads, tampons, menstrual cups and discs to try out, and period underwear too. This way people can give everything a try and see what works best for their body.”

Moon Time Connections is an autonomous subsidiary of True North Aid.  They are purely not-for-profit, and despite donations and government grants, the need for menstruation equity in Canada remains a reality.

“We have some sponsorship from Canadian vendors,” White reported enthusiastically. “We are excited about all our partnerships, and their generosity helps us to reach more people who need these services.” Moon Time Connections is receiving donations from Aisle, a manufacturer of period underwear.

“Period underwear can be cost preventative for a lot of people, and this support means that we can give communities environmentally sustainable, reuseable, menstruation products. For areas that have advisories to boil water, menstrual cups and discs may not be viable, while period underwear would be. I’m also a fan of Aisle      because they have a boxer-brief style that is inclusive of gender diversity.”

The team at Moon Time Connections is encouraging the public to follow them on social media to see their work in action. “We are a registered non-profit organization, so our donors get tax receipts through True North Aid,” said White. “Even if people aren’t ready or able to contribute financially, being informed and spreading the word goes a long way toward combatting menstrual inequity in Canada.”

The online community support training is currently being translated into four traditional Indigenous languages. Those interested in learning more about this program can contact Moon Time Connections at [email protected].

For those living in remote and Northern areas: requests for menstrual products can be made online via request forms on their website:

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