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Holiday helping hands in Kugluktuk find ways to fundraise despite Covid restrictions

Covid restrictions haven't stopped the determined Kugluktuk Christmas Committee from raising funds, but they're currently in a position of having to do more with less.

Close to $35,000 has been pledged through the annual telethon and new online auctions. Although impressive, that is behind last year's exceptional pace of $42,000, and there are more people in need of help in 2020.

Kugluktuk Christmas Committee members Lori Rudyk, left, and Lauren Klassen display a homemade crocheted Afghan that was donated by Maryann Westwood. It was sold in the committee's online auction to raise funds for those in need during the holidays.
photo courtesy of Miranda Atatahak

Food hampers were distributed to 175 households last year. This year, the committee has decided to help every household in the community – approximately 450 of them – with food hampers and hygiene kits, said Miranda Atatahak, one of the volunteers.

The nine committee members have been meeting online or by teleconference to make plans because face-to-face gatherings of that many people were prohibited during the recent two-week pandemic lockdown.

“We’ve had to change basically everything we’ve done so far to work within the (public health) restrictions. It’s been a challenge but our group is resourceful and we’ve been able to get our work done,” said Atatahak.

The annual Christmas Gala – a popular dinner and auction – was scheduled for Nov. 21 as a scaled-down event for 60 people, but it was ultimately cancelled due to Nunavut's second lockdown.

All of the donated items for the gala were instead auctioned off online through the committee's Facebook page.

“It’s the first time we’ve done online auctions and we weren’t sure how well we would do. Thankfully our social media community responded and our online auctions brought in roughly the same amount we would normally raise from a sit-down dinner and auction,” Atatahak said.

A celebratory photo of members of Kugluktuk's Christmas Committee after hosting the 2020 Radio Telethon. From left, Saveah Ilgok, Miranda Atatahak, Lashawna Taipana, Doreen Evyagotailak and Akok Adjun.
photo courtesy of Akok Adjun

The radio telethon was held in the community hall, but the usual crowd on hand to enjoy the music, games and other events was non-existent. Only five people could be in the room at a time so Atatahak looked after the hosting duties, Lashawna Taipana operated the radio and Saveah Ilgok, Akok Adjun and Doreen Evyagotailak answered the telephones and accepted donations via e-transfers.

Residents called in to join Atatahak live on radio – some shared greetings and shared stories, some sang and others played instruments.

Meanwhile, volunteers Nadene McMenemy, Johnny Kootoo and Robin Ilgok – wearing masks and gloves – drove around town picking up cash donations that community members placed in sealed bags.

“It was a very busy night being so short-handed, but it was fun,” said Atatahak. “The spirit of Christmas and community was alive and well ... It was a really heartwarming event.”

The Tahikyoak Heritage Fund and Canadian North are among the initiative's largest supporters.

The committee's holiday breakfast program is underway, although it too has been altered. Instead of groups of people stopping by for a drop-in breakfast, there's a pickup program offering a week's worth of cereal, milk, snack bars, yogurt and fruit for households. On Dec. 14, 178 breakfast packages were given away. More will be be available on Dec. 21 and 28.

Food hampers are scheduled to be delivered on Dec. 22.