The sense of community evident during the week of Remembrance Day was felt that much stronger in Rankin Inlet when Royal Canadian Legion Branch 169 presented the RCMP with an $11,000 donation to its Kivalliq-wide Christmas Food Hamper on Nov. 9.
It was the biggest single donation the Rankin Legion has ever made, says longtime legion member and former branch president Darrin Nichol.
"It's no coincidence the donation was made just before Remembrance Day," he said. "It's a sign of our commitment to growing and supporting important initiatives like this in our region."
Nichol said it's important for the organization to maintain a high level of visibility when it comes to community involvement.
He said funding is tight and could be getting tighter for a number of organizations within Rankin and across the Kivalliq, and the branch executive feels the legion can play a role in helping to address numerous issues and causes that are before them.
"That's true for everything from supporting amateur sports teams to looking at the bigger picture of other important initiatives that are lacking in the Kivalliq, such as facilities for the elderly across the region," said Nichol. "We try to keep an open mind and look toward broader issues as we move forward, and we look forward to being one part of many in trying to address these issues."
Nichol said making the donation to the food hamper just two days before Remembrance Day did make it feel a bit more special.
He said the Rankin Legion has a growing membership that wants the branch to be active and selective in terms of where it makes its donations, and the Christmas Food Hamper has always been a really important program to every Kivalliq community.
Nichol said the Rankin Legion isn't that unique insofar as a number of challenges it faces are also being faced by legion branches across the country.
He said Branch 169 was proud to represent Nunavut at this year's national legion convention in Winnipeg, Man.
"In many cases, the Rankin Legion is at the forefront in terms of its operational growth and structure.
"We have a very young and diverse membership and, from our vantage point, a veteran is a veteran is a veteran, whether you're in the Canadian Rangers, the RCMP or you have past military service.
"That's an important component to it and, as a national organization, it's key to being committed to remembrance and honouring those who served, regardless of conflict, whether it was Cyprus, Afghanistan, Korea or the Second World War.
"That's our solemn mission – what we're committed to do – and we look forward to doing it for a long time into the future."
Funds will be split between communities
The ceremonial cheque was presented by Kelly Kaludjak on behalf of the legion and accepted by Sgt. Earl LeBlanc on behalf of the RCMP.
Kaludjak said $5,000 of the money donated will stay in Rankin, with each of the other six Kivalliq communities receiving $1,000.
She said Royal Canadian Legion Branch 169 enjoys giving back as much as it possibly can to the community throughout the year.
"We make a lot of donations throughout the year in response to the letters we receive asking for our help," said Kaludjak.
"We've helped everyone from the Deacon's Cupboard to various sports such as softball teams in the past year.
"It was nice to be able to make the donation so close to Remembrance Day, which is the biggest day of the year for the legion."
Branch president Pelagie Sharp was travelling this year, so second vice-president Mark Wyatt organized the remembrance ceremony, she said.