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Baker Lake thrift shop now staffed by volunteers

After store manager Sharon Alerk was let go from her job, the Abluqta Society in Baker Lake decided their recently opened thrift shop would be run by volunteers.
Many community members stepped forward to join the society and help run the shop at an emergency meeting in Baker Lake on Oct. 17.
"I was very relieved to see a lot of people come forward wanting to become society members and volunteer at the thrift store," said the organization's president Joseph Arnasungaaq. "I was overwhelmed, excited and happy that the store is going to keep running."

Abluqta Society president Joseph Arnasungaaq and former Thrift Store manager Sharon Alerk display the original food bank donations the society received in May of 2018.
Photo courtesy Erin Strachan

Arnasungaaq said he was nervous before attending the emergency meeting.
He said he honestly wasn't sure if enough volunteers would come forward to run the shop but he was pleasantly surprised.
"I said a small prayer, alone, before heading down to the store for the meeting," he said.
Arnasungaaq said the society now has eight new members and a number of others who will volunteer their time at the thrift store.
The Abluqta Society was founded two years ago with hopes of providing essential goods and services to the people of Baker Lake.
To that end, the society opened a thrift shop in the community this past May 11.
Alerk was originally hired to run the store but had to be let go recently over a number of issues, including a lack of sufficient funding to justify the position, said Arnasungaaq.
There was also some friction between a number of society committee members and Alerk.
"Our former store manager wasn't always in agreement with the committee and, in the opinion of some, not always that polite with its members, so that and increased difficulties with maintaining our revenues led to the recent termination of the position," said Arnasungaaq.
Her termination means the shop will now be run by volunteers.
"A lot of customers were using the thrift store before we ran into problems and it was closed a lot, then they stopped coming," he said. "I would to thank the people of Baker Lake for showing their support of the Abluqta Society and coming forward to help us.
"I hope the community has a good future with Abluqta going forward."

Plans to open food bank
Abluqta member Silas Arngna'naaq said the society was helped tremendously by the meeting this past week.
The society hopes to open a food bank in the community.
Arngna'naaq said there are enough people in the community who share the society's view that Baker needs one. Moving forward, he's quietly optimistic that day will come.
"The community also needs some kind of store for those who are less fortunate, so I think support for the Abluqta Society was always there, but we probably didn't have it co-ordinated properly," said Arngna'naaq.
"I'm not sure what the direction will be at this point, in terms of a full-time food bank, but that is the direction I think most of the members who joined are thinking of taking.
"There could be some training offered for some of our new members, in terms of being members of a board of directors, but, other than that, most of the organization is set up pretty well.
"And, when you look at things like the sewing program held during the past year, the Abluqta Society has the potential to do a lot of positive things in the community."
Arngna'naaq said the society made a good decision in moving forward on a completely volunteer basis, at least until such a time its members feel ready to be able to work with a manager.
He said what he heard during this past week's meeting has him confident the society is now moving in the right direction.
The people who were there were very supportive, he said.
"It was a very upbeat meeting and the people who came and spoke out had a lot of new ideas about how we could tackle some of the problems that we ran into before," he said.
"I thank the people who came out to support the Abluqta Society and I hope we'll be able to help our people in the community a little more now," he continued. "With the support we received at the meeting, we now have a much brighter future to look forward to."