Northern News Services
When a baby needed to be taken care of or a sick elder needed help, relatives and friends never had to be asked to lend a hand. People just pitched in and lightened the load.
Things don't always work that way in 2002, but the government of Nunavut is doing what it can to restore a sense of community and volunteerism in residents.
So was borne the first annual volunteer awards luncheon, held in Iqaluit last Tuesday afternoon.
Calling volunteers the foundation of any community, Community Government Minister Manitok Thompson presented four awards to Nunavummiut.
Iqaluit youth Fauna Kingdon -- well-known for her volunteer efforts and the role she plays as a mentor to other youth -- was the first recipient called to receive the award. Her mother Eliza beamed from the audience.
"We're very proud of her. We've encouraged her along the way to experience different levels of volunteerism in a variety of things," said Eliza. Iqaluit Host Society president Victor Tootoo accepted the award for the group and family category for the work done in the city with volunteers for the Arctic Winter Games.
"This is for the Host Society and for the almost 1,200 volunteers who worked hard over the years," said Tootoo.
Whale Cove elder Samuel Arualak was recognized for the guidance he consistently offers to community residents.
He was also honoured for the effort he puts into helping run and maintain the local church. Thompson accepted the award on Arualak's behalf because the elder was unable to attend.
Finally, the chief of Rankin Inlet's fire and ambulance brigade was honoured for the 10 years he's volunteered for the Kivalliq hamlet's emergency services.
Ambrose Karlik said he was caught completely off guard by the award. "I was so surprised when I was told I was invited to Iqaluit," said Karlik.
Prior to joining the volunteer firefighting squad at 17 years of age, Karlik dreamed of the day he'd be old enough to sign up. "I'm so happy," said Karlik. "This is my first time getting recognized," he said.