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Christmas committee forges ahead in Kugluktuk

Like Santa’s elves, the Kugluktuk Christmas Committee is engaged in a flurry of activity in preparation for the festive holiday season.
Allison Pare and Bonnie Power, right, members of the Kugluktuk Christmas Committee last year, helped organize a slew of festive activities. This year’s committee already has work well underway to raise in excess of $60,000 to provide for local residents. Photo courtesy of the Kugluktuk Christmas Committee .

Like Santa’s elves, the Kugluktuk Christmas Committee is engaged in a flurry of activity in preparation for the festive holiday season.

The goal is to outfit each household in the community with a full hamper on Dec. 17. The hampers will contain a Butterball turkey, a ham and the rest of the dinner fixings. To make that a reality for more than 400 families will cost approximately $42,000, according to Nadene McMenemy, the primary organizer.

In addition, a “mobile breakfast” will be given away over three consecutive Mondays (Dec. 13, 20 and 27), providing families in need with cereal, milk, fruit, granola and yogurt. That’s expected to cost another $18,000.

“That’s a lot of money,” McMenemy said of the combined $60,000.

To raise the funds, a major bingo was held. A Christmas bazaar is scheduled for Saturday, as is the annual telethon, where Simon Kuliktana and his band were set to perform during the evening along with throat singers and drum dancers, McMenemy noted. Residents were asked to call in to make donations.

An online auction — featuring local contributions including iPads, sealskin and muskox products, artwork and jewelry — is being held during the week of Dec. 5.

Children will get the opportunity to receive a gift from Santa Claus and get their photo taken with him on Dec. 18. There will be 3,500 Timbits from Tim Hortons and hot chocolate on offer at that event.

The Santa Claus parade is on the calendar for Christmas Eve.

A virtual talent show is set for Dec. 27. That will be followed by virtual jigging the next night. A movie night, radio trivia and a cake decorating contest are also in the mix.

Covid-19 precluded the Christmas gala from going ahead for the second straight year, but fireworks will still be held to ring in the new year.

The theme for this year’s events is Family Time.

“Making sure everybody is able to be with their family because we were under such (Covid-19) restrictions last year, and that everyone has a good, hot meal. There’s no reason for any household to go without, we make sure of that, and spend some quality time together,” McMenemy said.

This year’s committee comprises several volunteers, many of them teachers.

“They’re a great help while they’re here. Some of them are going out of town (for the Christmas holidays) because they haven’t seen family in two years,” McMenemy said of the educators who are helping out. “It’s a small but mighty group … it’s a big undertaking but the end result is just so worth it.”

Lori Rudyk, one of the teachers on the committee for the past few years, said she enjoys being involved with the initiative because “to me, the holidays are about community — sustaining the traditions that were initiated years ago by Kugluktumiut provides a chance for all of us to live and learn about Inuit Qaujimajatuqangiit values like Pijitsirniq (serving) and Piliriqatigiingniq (working together).”