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Lifting spirits one bicycle at a time in Rankin Inlet

Another 42 youths have new bicycles following an initiative sponsored by Agnico Eagle Mine (AEM) and the Hamlet of Rankin Inlet in Rankin this past Wednesday, July 8.

Agnico Eagle Mines and the Hamlet of Rankin Inlet partnered to bring new bicycles to a group of Inuit youth for the second time in the past two months in Rankin Inlet on Wednesday, July 8.
Photo courtesy David Clark

Back in May, 50 Rankin youths aged five to 10 were presented with new bicycles.

Hamlet recreation co-ordinator David Clark said AEM has held similar programs in communities across the Kivalliq where they have employees located.

He said the company has also donated money to help the region with its ongoing struggle against Covid-19, which each Kivalliq community has made use of in its own way.

“They purchased a bunch of board games and stuff like that for the community in Arviat, so people can keep busy during these times,” said Clark.

“The communities put most of that money towards food and so did Rankin Inlet, but there was some money left over, so we did that first one getting new bikes for younger kids and it was a huge success.

“Like I said to AEM, having a bike in Rankin represents freedom for kids. They can get anywhere they want to go really quick. Kids love them and you can social distance with them.

“Bicycles and kids always work hand in hand if you ask me, so I suggested we do it for an older group of kids. AEM thought that was a great idea, so I want ahead and ordered 42 more bikes to give away to youths aged 11 to 14.”

Clark said AEM picked up the entire tab for the 42 new bikes.

He said the same system was used to distribute the bikes among the older kids as was used for the younger bike owners.

“Each kid was given three name tags and no kid was able to win more than one bike.

“That gave them a little bit more of an opportunity to win a bike. Basically, we ran it a lot like a penny sale and it did seem to work really well like that so we figured we'd do it like that again.

“A lot of the kids who won bikes were kids who probably wouldn't have a bike any other way.

“It was really nice to see that many kids leaving here with big, happy smiling faces, and being so excited to ride their new bike.”

Clark said all the social-distancing rules did apply and the draw was conducted over Facebook, so people didn't have to come to the community hall and that made a big difference, as well.

“It's been one of those summers where we couldn't really do the programming we wanted to,” said Clark.

“We're not having any big community events like we normally do, and it's not really ideal, but we're trying to come up with different ways to be creative and lift peoples' spirits in the process.

“That seems to be working and that's something that I really like to see.”

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