A small, kind, community gesture by an anonymous female donor continues to grow into a full-scale movement of generosity in Rankin Inlet.
It all started when Troy Aksalnik of the Terence Tootoo Memorial (TTM) senior men’s hockey championship committee happened to hear of an eight-pizza donation for those in the community who might appreciate a helping hand at the Slapshot Canteen.
The canteen is currently the sole tenant of Rankin’s new arena with everything shutdown due to Covid-19.
Aksalnik thought the gesture was a great idea and, after checking with his fellow committee members, he donated 22 pizzas to be distributed in the community the same way on behalf of the TTM.
Since that day on March 25, the number of pizzas being donated to the same cause has Slapshot Canteen owner Chadd Burrill matching one donation and struggling to keep up with the rest of the pizza orders for those in need – at least if he intends to ever make anything else on the menu.
Burrill said at first he couldn’t believe the number of people coming forward to join the pizza movement.
Then, he thought to himself, “Of course it’s going this way. It’s Rankin Inlet,” and raced to get back to his oven.
“Holy shite, man, it just blew up and got really crazy,” said Burrill.
“That one lady, I mean, one lady wanted to do something nice for the community and donated those eight pizzas and it just skyrocketed from there. I’m still getting requests from people who want to donate too.
“I was starting to get a little freaked, you know, I’m like really the only place open, so I’m telling people I have to tone it down a little bit – which is not really what I wanted to do in my heart, you know – but I have to get some more product in.
“It’s just my daughter and I working now and it got to the point where we really couldn’t keep up with that – to do so we’d have to shutdown completely and I still have a full-service here that I have to attend to – but God bless the people of Rankin for it reaching this point.”
Burrill said they pumped out more than 60 pizzas in the first few days to meet donor orders, but more requests started to overwhelm what he and his daughter, Destiny, could keep-up with.
He said he and Destiny have also respected the wishes of those donors who don’t want to be identified.
“I kind of think, they, you know, deserve credit for their generosity and helping this way, but it’s their wish to remain anonymous and we have to respect that too.
“I said I’d match one donation of five pizzas and then somebody else called to say they were going to match it, and then somebody else called to pay for those.
“I told them I already was paying for those so they told me they’d order another five and it just kept on going, going and going.
“What a good feeling for the community, the support and everything else – it even brought a tear to my eye, you know, it was a very emotional feeling how the community came together – and they still want to do more.”
Burrill said he’ll be honouring pizza donor requests again in the near future.
He said he’ll do whatever he can to help keep the wave of community generosity going, and that means more cleaning, more sanitizing and social distancing to keep everyone safe – and all those extra hours take a toll, but he and Destiny are determined to keep up.
“Words can’t really describe when something like this happens.
“It’s a tremendous feeling, both to be part of this awesome community and to be able to give a little something back to the community.
“And, it’s a tremendous honour, as a business owner, to be able to provide that service to the community while still managing, just my daughter and I, to meet all our take-out orders for three hours a day and eight to 10 orders on the weekend.
“It feels like I waited my whole life to do this – and it’s a freaking honour to be part of this community.”