It’s common to see numerous headlines dominated by eye-catching figures this time of year.
Not about government spending – although, those too, will have their day in the sun – but about the warmth and caring being spread throughout our communities by those near and far.
The North has always looked after its own, with hamlet offices and dedicated volunteers putting together Christmas hampers for every household in Kugluktuk and Baker Lake, and volunteers in Cambridge Bay teaming up with the RCMP to organize hampers for residents.
The Christmas committee in Kugluktuk was working to raise $60,000 to provide food donations for Christmas dinner and mobile breakfast events over the last three weeks of December.
Cindy Dhillon, who is a driving force behind the Facebook group Northern Canada Mini Projects, helped organize the delivery of more than 5,500 gifts from across the country, destined for Northern students.
The RCMP have been especially active in outreach and donations to communities.
This year, the children of Iglulik, Sanikiluaq and Coral Harbour will be getting presents as part of the 11th iteration of the Toys for the North campaign, a joint effort with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Pond Inlet will also be getting special gifts in the form of hockey gear. Officers and volunteers spent several days wrapping presents from the four-and-a-half pallets worth of donations.
Kinngait also saw a tidal wave of goods flown in from Ottawa, including video game consoles and other toys; clothing for men, women and children, including socks and slippers; hygiene items like soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste; dry food; diapers and baby wipes; sewing material; hockey sticks and other hockey equipment; and other miscellaneous items.
“They have not tallied up this year’s (weight) yet but from what I was told, the donations are still coming in even after the cut-off date. They have already sent a load up and are preparing another load now,” according to spokesperson Const. Pauline Melanson.
In Rankin Inlet, the Agnico Eagle Mines Charity Ball program gave $50,000 in donations to community organizations, including $10,000 each to the RCMP’s Christmas hamper program and a toy drive organized by resident Leonie Sammurtok.
It would be easy enough to dismiss these and other acts of kindness as an easy tax write-off for the larger organizations behind the giving, however, the intent behind the donations and thoughtful selection of recipients – whether individual efforts or entire communities – tends to inspire some faith in our fellow humans.
Lori Rudyk, one of the teachers on the Kugluktuk Christmas Committee for the past few years, said she enjoys being involved with the initiative because “to me, the holidays are about community – sustaining the traditions that were initiated years ago by Kugluktumiut provides a chance for all of us to live and learn about Inuit Qaujimajatuqangiit values like Pijitsirniq (serving) and Piliriqatigiingniq (working together).”
Virtual events are being held in most communities to help boost spirits and even a few will be in-person, like Iqaluit’s Santa Claus parade.
It’s been a couple challenging years, with so many events cancelled or limited to online participation only, so a little bit of extra kindness goes a long way.