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Cooking up more ways to help others

Even as Tasha Tologanak wraps up a two-year culinary arts program in Edmonton, she's still thinking about ways she could help others.

Tasha Tologanak of Cambridge Bay said people have expressed thanks when she's delivered donations and even years after the fact. "I've always had a place in my heart for people in the community," she said. photo courtesy of Tasha Tologanak

"I was planning to open up a soup kitchen," she said, adding that she's also pondering a catering business.

Tologanak, 23, earned the Outstanding Young Woman's Award through the Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council on March 13.

"I was really surprised," she said, adding that she only found out the night before the announcement that a former boss at Community Justice nominated her for the distinction.

"I've always had a place in my heart for people in the community and I think I'll always try to find a way to help them out and give back."

Among the reasons she was chosen was a Christmas hamper program that she organized out of her home.

"I just felt like I needed to help the community during Christmastime and during winter because it's so cold and everything is so costly and expensive back home," said Tologanak.

"I knew a lot of people needed winter clothing so I organized that and I partnered with the high school and we were able to get maybe five big Rubbermaid (tubs) of winter stuff and we distributed them."

She also solicited donations for turkey dinners and unused Christmas decorations.

"Everyone was so supportive and so helpful, and they just wanted to participate," she said.

Tologanak has also rounded up handouts following fires and other emergencies in Cambridge Bay, as recently as last summer, canvassing for clothes, dishes and other household items to aid families who suffered material losses.

It is this sense of caring that persuaded the status of women council to honour Tologanak.

"She understands the hardships of others and wants to help ease these hardships. She looks out for people in need and this makes her an excellent role model for others," the council stated in a news release.

Tologanak credited her parents, Jason Tologanak and Denise Ohokak, for ingraining in her that it's better to give than to receive.

"My parents do a lot of community involvement as well. I grew up looking and seeing what my parents do," she said. "It's just always been a part of my family, I guess."

Tologanak's grandmother, Peggy Tologanak, was overjoyed when she heard about her granddaughter's accolades.

"Oh my gosh, I was so excited. I couldn't stop laughing and smiling and crying," she said.

Rankin Inlet's Rosemary Sandy was selected for the Wise Woman Award this year.

Sandy was recognized for sharing her traditional knowledge such as sewing and cooking, stretching and drying skins.

She was also described as "open, kind and supportive."