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We Care initiative sends Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik students home with hampers

Second time this school year every student had the opportunity to take home a package of food
Delaine Fredlund and Vestal Netser make their way through the foyer with their hampers. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

Sending Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik students home with hampers on Feb. 25 was about more than providing a few good meals.

“When you look at it, this is an organization within a bigger organization,” said principal Olusoga Tomoloju. “In other words, it’s a community within the bigger community. There has to be collaboration, partnership and so on for our students to thrive and for us to meet their learning needs.”

Supporting students goes beyond in-school activities. It extends to supporting their families and the community at large, he said.

Every student had the opportunity to take home a hamper – reusable bags so stuffed to the brim that several broke and needed to be re-bagged before youth could take them home – for the second time this school year. It’s part of an initiative the school has dubbed We Care. The hampers contained ham, ground beef, bread, mashed potato and many more items that families need.

Tomoloju said he wants to send a message to the community that the school cares.

“We understand that there are families that really need a little bit of help, so we don’t take it for granted,” he said, adding that the Rankin Inlet District Education Authority provided the funding necessary.

The response is always phenomenal, he added.

“You can tell with the love, the hugs, the smiles, the thumbs up, it’s a reflection of the acceptance of the initiative,” he said.

It also plays into the reciprocal nature of school-family relationships — furthering collaboration and support between families and the school, noted Tomoloju.

“Anything we can do to support our family, that’s why we’re here,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be academic only.”

That all comes down to the core of MUI’s philosophy: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, represented by a pyramid displaying the foundational blocks needed for people to reach their creative potential.

“If the physiological and the psychological needs are not met, learning cannot take place,” said Tomoloju. “There has to be food in the tummy. They have to be socially OK.”

The school is hoping to hold another We Care hamper giveaway before the end of the year.

Deryk Sandy flashes a smile behind a mask. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Destiny Burill and Atuat Hickes pack their loaded hampers down the hall. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Tayshaun Ussak, left, and Akeela Nakoolak juggle their filled-to-the-brim hampers. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo