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COLUMN: Passing grades, but capable of more

It was good this post holiday season to hear reports of a strong volunteer base getting involved with the various celebrations and activities in communities across the Kivalliq.
Ditto reports of members of the Canadian Rangers running holiday games and activities in their community and people like Wesley Innukshuk in Rankin Inlet continuing the tradition of running games sponsored by the Rankin Inlet Search and Rescue Committee and on behalf of local radio.
In an age when volunteerism has become a tough sell in many locales, the Kivalliq remains better off than many regions across our entire country.
However, as great as it is that volunteers are answering the call for holiday activities and other one-off special events, the region still needs to take another step forward and have more people stepping up to help ongoing programs – especially for youth – continue and progress.
If we want our youth getting involved with positive activities that help them mature and develop personally, foster skill development and learning, bestow upon them a sense of belonging and acceptance, lay the foundation for leadership abilities and, most importantly, provide them with a safe space where having fun and social interaction are the rules not the exceptions – then it is of paramount importance that our youth have confidence in the continuity of the programs and believe there will always be someone there to open the doors and lead the activity.
And that confidence in program delivery remains a constant whether you're talking about one of the numerous youth sports in our region, the cadet program or Junior Rangers, traditional sports or skills development – even the local school chess club or creative-writing club for that matter, if either actually exist in our region.
There has been some talk recently on social media about the difference between volunteerism and actual dedication, especially as it pertains to involvement with sports programs in the region.
And it's a fair point to be raised, as getting involved as a minor hockey coach, or taking on a youth soccer or volleyball team, is a lot more time-consuming than helping out with a program, club or activity that meets once a week for a couple of hours.
But one would hope the decision to take on a coaching role in youth sports would only be made with the understanding it takes a certain level of commitment, but the rewards far outstrip the sacrifices. You can take to the bank everything positive you put into a program and the kids participating in it will come back to you twofold.
Communities are extremely lucky to have personalities such as David Clark and Lisa Kresky in Rankin Inlet, Gleason Uppahuak and Gord Billard in Arviat, Glen Brocklebank in Chesterfield Inlet, Jim Kreuger in Baker Lake and Laimmiki Malliki in Naujaat, who bring so much passion and dedication to the programs they're involved with, but we need to attract more people to get involved with programs in their community, especially of the extracurricular variety.
With a nod to our existing Commissioner Awards and the elite-of-the-elite awards presented each year in Iqaluit – more of a focus on celebrating our volunteers through special nights dedicated entirely to them in their own communities from the Government of Nunavut and our regional Inuit associations certainly wouldn't hurt in attracting more adults to get involved with youth programming.
We're doing OK in the Kivalliq, earning a solid C+ for our levels of dedication and volunteerism for youth programming, but we are capable of earning much higher marks.
The youth of the region benefit more and more as the mark goes higher and isn't that really what it should be all about?
Food for thought!