Skip to content

Iqaluit mosque donates ‘hundreds’ of backpacks to local students

Many students in Iqaluit will start the coming school year with brand new backpacks and supplies thanks to the charitable efforts of the city’s only Mosque.
33659192_web1_230828-NUN-Mosque-back-to-school-drive_2
Marion Fogan, front right, stands outside Iqaluit’s mosque with her parents Michael Fogan and Eena Laisa. Marion, who is going to kindergarten, is one of many children to receive a new backpack from the mosque in 2023. Her parents said it would be a “struggle” to buy new backpacks for all of their children. Tom Taylor/NNSL photo ᒥᐅᕆᔭᓐ ᕗᑭᓐ ᑕᓕᖅᐱᖕᒥ ᓇᖏᖅᑐᖅ ᑐᒃᓯᐊᕐᕕᐅᑉ ᓯᓚᑖᓂ ᐊᖓᔪᖅᖄᒥᓂᒃ ᐱᖃᑎᖃᖅᖢᓂ ᒪᐃᑯ ᕗᑲᒃ ᐄᓇ ᓚᐃᓴ. ᒥᐅᕆᔭᓐ, ᐃᓕᓂᐊᕆᐅᓕᓵᖅᑐᖅ, ᕿᑐᕐᖓᒪ ᐃᓚᖓ ᑐᓂᔭᐅᖃᑕᐅᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ ᓇᖕᒪᒑᕐᒥᒃ ᑐᒃᓯᐊᕐᕕᖕᒥᑦ 2023. ᐊᖓᔪᖄᖓ ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ ‘’ᐊᔪᕐᓇᕋᔭᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ’’ ᓂᐅᕕᕆᐊᒃᓴᑦ ᓄᑖᕐᓂ ᓇᖕᒪᒑᕐᓂᒃ ᕿᑐᖓᓕᒪᒥᓄᑦ.

Many students in Iqaluit will start the coming school year with brand new backpacks and supplies thanks to the charitable efforts of the city’s only Mosque.

The Mosque, which overlooks Imiqtarviminiq Lake along the Road to Nowhere, held its annual backpack donation under a sunny sky on Saturday, Aug. 19.

“Hundreds” of backpacks were distributed over the course of the morning and afternoon, according to Muhammad Wani, one of the event’s organizers and the vice president of the Islamic Society of Nunavut.

“It’s for everybody from kindergarten to grade 12,” he said several days before the event, as he showed off the backpacks awaiting donation. “These things are being distributed whether it’s a Muslim or non-Muslim, whatever gender or caste, it doesn’t matter. We don’t care about those things. Whoever is need, we will give to them.”

The Mosque, which also operates popular food bank every second Saturday, has been donating backpacks since it opened in 2018. However, its donation efforts have ramped up over the last three years thanks to a partnership with Toronto-based organization Muslim Welfare Canada.

The donation program—much like the food bank—was created in response to the high cost of living in Nunavut.

“Everything is expensive,” Wani said. “Some families I know, they cannot afford new backpacks for the kids. Kids, when they have these new things, they have inspiration to learn more, to go to school. That’s why we thought we should be giving away something.”

“Every kid should have a new bag to take to school.”

The backpacks the mosque donates are distributed based on grade and gender, with unisex options available. Each one comes full of school supplies which, depending on the age of the student, range from notebooks and writing tools to geometry kits and scientific calculators.

Marion Fogan, who is starting kindergarten, was one of the first children to receive a new backpack and supplies from the Mosque this year.

She was all smiles in the building’s parking lot, and seemed to be particularly enthused about the colour of her new bag.

“It’s pink,” she said before proudly proclaiming that everything inside the bag belonged to her. “My stuff!”

Marion was accompanied by her parents, Michael Fogan and Eena Laisa, who agreed that outfitting their three school-aged children with new backpacks and supplies would be a “struggle.”

“We came here because we regularly use the food bank,” said Fogan. “Our kids got brand new backpacks—top of the line.

“You go to Northmart, you go to Ventures, a lot of times they’re overly expensive, or by the time we get there when we have child tax or something, they’re all gone,” he added. “They have to cover freight costs, so you’re looking at a $35 backpack being $60 or $70 up here.”

Several other parents, who asked to remain anonymous, had similarly high praise for the Mosque’s backpack donation program.

“It’s hard to get school stuff,” one man with three school-aged children said, showing off a new blue backpack for his seven-year-old.

“It’s awesome to have this for free,” echoed a woman with two children.

Wani, who is originally from Pakistan, is thrilled that the Mosque’s backpack donation program has such a positive impact on local parents and children.

“If we are serving people, we are serving Allah,” he said. “That’s our motto, so you can understand our thinking behind it.”

“When we give these away to the kids, and we see the smile on their face, that makes us happy,” he added. “That is our satisfaction, that they will be taken care of, and their parents will not be expending that money buying these bags.”

ᐃᓄᖅᑐᑦ ᓄᑕᖅᖃᑦ ᐃᖃᓗᖕᓂᑦ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᓯᒋᐊᕐᓂᐊᕐᒥᔪᑦ ᐊᕌᒍᔪᒥ ᓄᑖᕐᓂᒃ ᓇᖕᒪᖔᖃᕐᓗᑎᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕐᕕᖕᒧᑦ ᑐᕌᖅᑐᑦ ᑎᑎᕋᕐᕕᒃᓴᑦ ᖁᔭᓕᕗᑦ ᑐᓂᔭᐅᓚᐅᕐᒪᑕ ᐃᖃᓗᐃᑦ ᑐᒃᓯᐊᕐᕕᓕᕆᔨᖏᓂ ᐃᓚᖓᓂ.

ᑐᒃᓯᐊᕐᕕᒃ, ᑐᒃᓯᐊᕐᕕᕕᓂᖅ ᓴᖓᓪᓗᓂ ᐃᒥᖅᑕᕐᕕᕕᓂᖅ ᑕᓯᕐᒧᑦ ᓂᐊᖁᖑᓕᐊᕐᕕᐊ, ᑐᓂᐅᖃᐃᓚᐅᖅᐳᑦ ᓇᖕᒪᒐᓂᒃ ᐊᕋᒍᑕᒪ ᐊᑐᖅᐸᒃᑕᓂ ᓯᕿᓐᓂᑦᑎᐊᖅᑐᒃᑯᑦ ᓯᕙᑖᕐᕕᒃ, ᐊᒌᓯ 19.

‘ᐅᓄᖅᑐᑦ’ ᓇᖕᒪᒑᕐᓂᒃ ᓄᓂᐅᖃᖅᑕᐅᓚᐅᖅᐳᑦ ᐅᓪᓚᒥ ᐅᓐᓄᒃᓴᒧᑦ, ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ ᒪHᐊᒥᑦ ᕋᓂ, ᐃᕿᒃᓱᐃᔨᐅᖃᑕᐅᔪᖅ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᖓᔪᖅᑳ ᑐᒡᓕᖓ ᐃᓯᓚᒥᒃ ᑲᑐᔨᖃᑎᒋᖏᓐᓄᑦ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ.

‘’ᑭᑯᓕᒪᓄᑦ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᓕᓵᖅᑐᓄᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᖁᑦᑎᖕᓂᓕᑦ 12-ᒧᑦ,’’ ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅᑕᖁᖁᑎᕙᖏᑦ ᓇᖕᓚᒑᑦ ᑐᓂᐅᖃᓚᐅᖏᑎᓪᓗᒋᑦ ᓱᓕ. ‘’ᐅᑯᐊ ᑭᒃᑯᑐᐃᓐᓇᕐᒧᖓᔪᑦ ᐅᒃᐱᕐᓂᑦ ᒪᓕᖏᓪᓗᒍ, ᑭᑯᓕᒪᓄᑦ. ᐃᓱᒪᓗᑎᒋᖏᑕᕗᑦ ᑕᒪᓐᓇ. ᐱᔭᕆᐊᖃᖅᐸᑦ ᑕᕝᕙᐅᕗᑦ.’’

ᑐᒃᓯᐊᕐᕕᒃ, ᐱᓕᕆᐊᖃᓲᖑᖕᒥᔪᑦ ᓂᕿᓂᑦ ᑐᓂᐅᖃᐃᓪᓗᑎᒃ ᓯᕙᑕᕐᕕᒃᑯᑦ ᒪᕈᑦ ᐱᓇᓱᐊᕈᓯᑦ ᐊᓂᒍᕌᖓᑦ, ᓇᖕᒪᒐᓂᒃ ᑐᓂᐅᖃᐃᖃᑦᑕᓕᖅᑐᑦ ᑕᐃᒪᖓᓂᒃ ᐱᒋᐊᓚᐅᖅᓯᒪᒐᒥᒃ 2018-ᒥ. ᐱᓪᓗᒍ, ᑐᓐᓂᖁᓯᐊᑦ ᐱᕈᖅᓯᒪᓕᖅᑐᑦ ᐱᖓᓱᓄᑦ ᐊᕌᒍᓄᑦ ᖁᔭᓕᕗᑦ ᑐᓚᑐᓂ ᑲᑐᔨᖃᑎᒌᒃ ᑐᒃᓯᐊᕐᕕᓕᕆᔨᓄᑦ ᑲᓇᑕᒥ.

ᑐᓂᖅᓴᖅᑕᐅᓂᖅ - ᐱᔪᖅ ᑐᓂᖅᓴᐃᕙᑦᑐᑐᑦ ᓂᕿᓂᒃ-ᐊᕿᒃᑕᐅᓂᑯ ᐊᑭᑐᓗᐊᕐᓂᖏᓐᓄᑦ ᓂᕿᑦ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ.

‘’ᑭᓱᓕᒪᑦ ᐊᑭᑐᖕᒪᑕ’’, ᕋᓂ ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ. ‘’ᐃᓚᖏ ᐃᓚᒌᒃ ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᒃᑲ ᓂᐅᕕᕈᓐᓇᐅᑎᖃᖏᒻᒪᑕ ᓇᖕᒪᒑᓂᑦ ᕿᑐᖓᒥᓄᑦ. ᓄᑕᖅᑲᑦ ᐱᖃᖅᑎᓪᓗᒋᑦ ᓄᑕᓂ ᐱᔪᒪᓂᖃᕐᓂᖅᓴᐅᔪᓐᓇᕐᒪᑕ ᐃᓕᑎᓂᖃᕐᓕᖅᓴᐅᓗᑎᓗ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᖅᑕᒥᓂ. ᐱᓪᓗᒍ ᐃᓱᒪᓚᐅᖅᐳᒍᑦ ᑐᓂᓯᓪᓗᐊᕐᓂᑦᑎᓐᓂ ᑭᓱᓂᒃᑭᐊᖅ.’’

ᓄᑕᖃᓕᒪᑦ ᓇᖕᒪᒐᖃᕆᐊᖃᕐᒪᑕ ᐊᑐᕐᓂᐊᖅᑕᒥᓂ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕐᕕᖕᒧᑦ.’’

ᓇᖕᒪᒐᑦ ᑐᒃᓯᐊᕐᕕᖕᒥᑦ ᑐᓂᐅᖅᑲᖅᑕᐅᔪᑦ ᑭᑯᑐᐃᓐᓇᕐᓄᑦ ᐊᕐᓇᓄ ᐊᖑᑎᓄᓪᓗ ᐃᓗᓕᓕᑦ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕈᑎᓂᒃ , ᐊᕌᒍᒥᓄ ᒪᓕᒃᖢᓂᒡᔪᒃ, ᑎᑎᕋᕐᕕᒃᓴᓂᒃ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕐᕕᖕᒧᓪᓗ ᐊᑐᕈᓐᓇᖅᑐᑦ ᓇᐃᓴᐅᓯᕆᔾᔪᑎᑦ.

ᒥᐅᕆᔭᓐ ᕕᕆ, ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕆᐊᓕᓵᖅᑐᖅ ᓯᕗᓪᓕᖅᐸᐅᖃᑕᐅᓪᓗᓂ ᑐᓂᔭᐅᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ ᓇᖕᒪᒐᕐᒥᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᓕᓐᐊᕈᑎᓂᒃ ᑐᒃᓯᐊᕐᕕᖕᒥ ᐊᕋᒍᑦᑎᓐᓂ.

ᖁᖓᔮᖢᓂ ᓯᓚᑕᓂ ᓄᓇᓯᐅᑎᑯᕕᖕᒥ, ᐱᑯᒍᓱᖂᔨᓪᓗᓂᓗ ᓇᖕᒪᒐᖅᑕᒥᓂᒃ ‘’ᐱᒃᑲ’’

ᒥᐅᕆᔭᓐ ᐱᖃᑎᖃᖅᖢᓂ ᐊᖓᔪᖄᒥᓂᒃ ᒪᐃᑯ ᕗᕆ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᓇ ᓚᐃᓴ, ᐊᖏᖅᖢᓂᓗ ᐱᑕᖅᑎᒋᐊᒃᓴᖅ ᐊᔪᕐᓇᕋᔭᕐᒪᑦ

ᓂᐅᕕᕆᐊᒃᓴᖅ ᓇᖕᒪᒐᖕᓂ.

‘’ᖃᐃᖃᐅᔪᒍᑦ ᓱᖃᐃᒻᒪ ᐊᐃᒃᓯᖅᐸᒃᑲᑦᑕ ‘’ᓂᕿᓂᒃ’’ ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ ᕕᕿ. ‘’ᕿᑐᖓᕗᑦ ᓄᑖᓂᒃ ᓇᖕᒪᒑᖃᓯᕗᑦ.

‘’ᓂᐅᕕᕐᕕᓕᐊᖅᖢᓂ ᑭᓱᑐᐃᓐᓇᑦ ᐊᑭᑐᖕᒪᑕ, ᑕᐃᑯᖓᑕᐃᓇᕋᖓᑦᑕ, ᓄᖑᓯᒪᑐᖑᖕᒪᑕ ᐱᔭᕆᐊᓕᑦ, ᐃᓚᓯᕗᖅ. ‘’ᖃᖓᑦᑕᐅᑎᒧᑦ ᐊᑭᑦᑐᕆᐊᖅᐸᖕᒪᑕ, ᑕᑯᔪᑎ $35 ᓇᖕᒪᒐ $60-$70 ᑕᒪᓂ.’’

ᐃᓚᖏᑦ ᐃᖓᔪᖅᑲᑦ ᑲᖑᓱᒃᑐᑦ, ᐱᑯᒍᓱᒃᐳᑦ ᑐᒃᓯᐊᕐᕕᓕᕆᔨᓂᒃ ᑐᓂᓯᓂᖏᓐᓄ ᓇᖕᒪᒐᓂᒃ.

ᐊᔪᕐᓇᕐᒪᑦ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕈᑎᓂᒃ ᐱᓇᓱᒃᖢᓂ,’’ ᐃᓚᖓ ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ ᐱᖓᓱᓂᒃ ᕿᑐᖓᓕᒃ. ᑕᑯᑎᑦᑎᓗᓂ ᓇᖕᒪᒐᕐᒥᒃ. ‘’ᐱᑯᓇᖅᑐᖅ ᐊᑭᖃᖏᑦᑐᒧᑦ ᐱᓪᓗᓂ,’’ ᐅᖃᖅᑐᖃᖅᐳᖅ.

ᕋᓂ ᐸᑭᔅᑕᓂᒥᐅᑕᒃᓴᔭ, ᐱᑯᒍᓱᒃᐳᖅ ᑐᓂᐅᖃᐃᓂᖅ ᓇᖕᒪᒐᓂᒃ ᐊᑑᑎᖃᑎᐊᕈᓐᓇᕋᒥ ᐊᖓᔪᖅᑳᓄᑦ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓄᑕᖅᑲᓄᑦ. ‘’ᐃᑲᔪᕈᑦᑕ ᐃᓄᖕᓂᑦ, ᐃᑲᔪᕋᑦᑕ ᐸᓚᒧ, ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ. ᐅᖃᐅᓯᕗᑦ ᑕᒪᓐᓇ, ᑐᑭᓯᓂᐊᕋᔅᓯ.’’

ᑐᓂᐅᖃᐃᓕᕋᖓᑦᑕ ᖁᖓᔮᖅᑐᓂ ᑕᑯᕙᒃᑐᒍᑦ, ᐊᓕᐊᓇᐃᓲᖅ ᐅᕙᑦᑎᓐᓄᑦ, ᐃᓚᓯᕗᖅ. ‘’ᐱᑯᒋᔪᑎᕗᑦ ᑕᒪᓐᓇ.

33659192_web1_230828-NUN-Mosque-back-to-school-drive_3
Muhammad Wani, vice-president of the Islamic Society of Nunavut, holds up one of the backpacks that was donated to Iqaluit students ahead of the 2023 school year. The mosque has been donating backpacks for years. Tom Taylor/NNSL photo ᒧHᐊᒥᑦ ᕋᓂ, ᐊᖓᔪᖅᖄᑉ ᑐᒡᓕᖓ ᐃᓯᓚᒥᒃᒥᐅᑦ ᑲᑐᔨᖃᑎᒌᒃ ᓄᓇᕗᒻᒥ, ᑐᓂᐅᖃᐃᓲᑦ ᓇᖕᒪᒑᕐᓂᒃ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᖅᑐᓄᑦ ᐃᖃᓗᖕᓂ 2023 ᐃᓕᓂᐊᓯᒋᐊᕐᓂᖅ. ᑲᑐᔨᖃᑎᒌᒃ ᑐᓂᐅᖃᐃᖃᑦᑕᖅᓯᒪᓕᖅᑐᑦ ᓇᖕᒪᒑᕐᓂᒃ ᐊᒥᓱᓄᑦ ᐊᕌᒍᓄᑦ.


About the Author: Tom Taylor

Read more