With the spirit of the late civic leader in mind, Iqalungmiut are invited to join the Jimmy Kilabuk Run and help raise money for an aquatic centre fund, named after Kilabuk, the man who pushed the city to build a facility everyone could use.

That fund provides Inuit families on social assistance access to all the services the centre has on offer.

Learn to Run instructor Joe Juralak, left, guest services supervisor Rubina Hoque, fitness coordinator Nick Chu and fitness instructor Anne-Marie Beaudoin-Alain, also on the Learn to Run team, are all revved up for the Iqaluit Aquatic Centre’s first Jimmy Kilabuk Run, scheduled for June 22.
Michele LeTourneau/NNSL photo

“We try to do it by family because we do want to support the kids to come in with their family to use the facility,” said guest services supervisor Rubina Hoque.

“As of right now we have approximately 36 families that benefit from this program.”

Hoque and fitness coordinator Nick Chu say the run is more than a fundraiser. They also want to ensure the community is aware the program exists, which in late 2017 grew to include any family who might need assistance – providing 75 per cent of the fee for those eligible.

Annie Nowdlak accepts a commemorative gift from Coun. Simon Nattaq in honour of her late husband at a ceremony to launch the Jimmy Kilabuk Fund at the Iqaluit Aquatic Centre April 18, 2017.
NNSL file photo

The Jimmy Kilabuk Fund had an excellent start when the aquatic centre opened its doors April 18, 2017. Through the REACH – Recreation, Environmental Leadership, Aquatic Centre, Community Building, Healthy Living – fundraising program, created in 2011, the city contributed more than $100,000 to support the fund.

“As you know, Jimmy – as we lovingly know him, Flash – was a beloved former mayor and city councillor, firefighter and overall wonderful man. He had a strong vision to build an aquatic centre for all people of Iqaluit,” said Mayor Madeleine Redfern at the aquatic centre’s launch of the fund in 2017.

“He especially wanted to ensure all children had access to the pool. Jimmy would be so pleased to know that through his dedication, families who require assistance are now able to access this wonderful facility.”

Families who access the fund might simply come to the facility for a public swim.

“Or swimming lessons, pool drop-in. Pretty much utilizing whatever there is at the facility,” said Chu.

“They get the same preference as anyone who buys a pass. Our staff don’t even know who are receiving from the Jimmy Kilabuk Fund. We treat everyone equally and respectfully,” said Hoque.

As for the run on June 22, Chu says there are 30 registrants so far.

“Since we started advertising for the run, we’ve seen a huge influx of runners outside. There’s a bit of a runners’ community in Iqaluit. In the next two weeks Nick is going to really push to get those runners into the run,” said Hoque.

Though the centre has been offering a Learn to Run Program on Saturdays, there’s no need to be a runner. In fact, whole families are encouraged to come out and take part in a choice of runs.

For a minimum donation of $25, the options are the 1-mile and 3-km runs beginning at 1 p.m., the 5-km and 10-km runs at 12:30 p.m., and the half-marathon at 10 a.m.

Participants will have race bibs, a T-shirt (if they arrive in time), and volunteers will be helping out at checkpoints and water stations. There will be medals.

“It’s pretty much about having the whole city active,” said Chu, adding the run routes are through the city.

“We decided to do it in the city. One of the reasons for that is exposure. We could have done it at Sylvia Grinnell (Territorial Park) or Apex, but we wanted it downtown for everyone to see.”

There are fun and games planned at the Arctic Winter Games Arena, which is the departure point, after the runs. Staff are working on having the event catered.

The plan is to turn the Jimmy Kilabuk Run into an annual event.

“That’s why we provide the Learn to Run Program. The run allows people to have an end goal. We’ll have the program a couple of times throughout the year. Then come summer, this is what we’ve been training for the whole year,” said Hoque.

Anne-Marie Beaudoin-Alain, who leads the program, said there are currently four participants.

“We see what we need to do to prevent injuries, what we need to do before and after (running). We relate it to habits of eating and posture. It also covers getting people ready to run outside … Here in Iqaluit we have the hills, so we train towards that,” she said.

To volunteer for the Jimmy Kilabuk Run, contact Chu or Hoque.

To register for the run, visit guest services at the aquatic centre or make contact via e-mail.

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