Tim Hortons and its 1,500 restaurant owners across Canada are preparing to launch a limited-time fundraising donut with 100 per cent of proceeds being donated to Indigenous organizations that support residential school survivors. The Orange Sprinkle Donut will go on sale at participating restaurants starting Sept. 30, which is Orange Shirt Day. Through Oct. 6, 100 per cent of the donut’s retail price (excluding taxes) will be donated to the Orange Shirt Society and the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.
This campaign was developed with a group of Indigenous Tim Hortons owners including Landon Miller, from the Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario.
We connected with Landon about how bringing Tims to his community has made a huge impact.
Landon Miller and his coworkers used to go on coffee runs that felt more like marathons.
At the time, the closest Tim Hortons to Landon’s Six Nations of the Grand River community of Ohsweken, Ont., was a 20-minute drive in any direction, so gathering one order would take at least 40 minutes.
“We did it anyway, and we did it consistently. And everybody did it,” Landon laughs now. “We loved the product, we loved the store, we loved the brand. But at the same time, it wasn’t something we had in our community. We didn’t feel that impact in our community.”
Landon and his partners set out to change that, and after pursuing the idea for years, in 2016 they built their own Tim Hortons restaurant on First Nations territory.
Your restaurant is celebrating its five-year anniversary. What do you remember about your grand opening?
Landon: We actually had a soft opening – people just moved the pylons and opened the store for us. They started coming in when we weren’t even open. We opened that day. (laughs) And we haven’t looked back as far as community support goes.
Why was it meaningful to bring a Tim Hortons to your community?
Landon: When we opened, we had 70 employees – 69 were from our community.
Knowing our First Nations community and communities across the country, the fact that we were able to bring so many youth in and get them out of their shell was important.
We’ve now walked hundreds of kids over to the bank to set up their first bank account after getting them setup for their first job.
That’s the biggest thing for me. The fact that I’ve seen kids grow up at the restaurant – it’s almost like they’re your own kids. Those are bigger things that make my wife and myself feel super happy.
What are some of the ways you’ve looked to give back?
Landon: We’re really proud of the things we’ve been able to do as a franchise for the community. Camp Day – that’s a big one for us. We send a bunch of kids from First Nations to camp every year, and that alone has changed so many lives within our community.
Our Smile Cookie donations go to language immersion schools on Six Nations, and every year that grows. We also launched the first-of-its-kind Timbits Lacrosse program in Ontario.
These are the reasons why we believe Tim Hortons needed to be in our community. When you utilize that tool – the Tim Hortons brand – in our communities, it can really make a big difference.
Has your restaurant become a gathering place for the community?
Landon: Absolutely. Everything seems to come through there now. All the groups congregate there. It’s just a really warm place to be.
Sometimes we actually have to tell people we can’t hear their orders because there’s so much laughter. We have our elders who come in – we make fun of my Dad, he kind of chairs the Wednesday morning elders meeting at the banquet table. They keep our workers and anyone standing in line in stitches.
We have a fire pit outside – fire is sacred to our people – and during the summer, it’s packed every night with families sitting around and conversing.
It’s a pretty cool feeling.
The Orange Sprinkle Donut will go on sale at participating restaurants starting Sept. 30, which is Orange Shirt Day. Through Oct. 6, 100 per cent of the donut’s retail price (excluding taxes) will be donated to the Orange Shirt Society and the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.
For more information about the Orange Shirt Society and Orange Shirt Day visit https://www.orangeshirtday.org.
For more information about the Indian Residential School Survivors Society visit https://www.irsss.ca.