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NNSL Photo

Travis Rusk of the Royal Bank in Iqaluit serves up burgers and hotdogs during a barbecue for the United Way Nunavut. The organization collected a $15,000 cheque from Health Minister Ed Picco. - Kerry McCluskey/NNSL photo

United Way comes North

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Aug 05/02) - Seeds of an organization that inspires people to care for one another have been planted in Canada's newest territory.

Bill Riddell, chair of the Illitit Society in Iqaluit, officially kicked off the organizing drive for the United Way Nunavut July 26.

The Illitit Society is a non-profit organization mandated to activate social service programs in Iqaluit. Recognizing a need to expand the kinds of assistance available to Nun-avummiut, Riddell and a group of other citizens have now turned their focus to making Nunavut the 125th chapter of the United Way in Canada.

"Ultimately, the existence of the United Way will challenge health and social service wellness agencies to become stronger and more viable," explained Riddell.

Acting as an umbrella agency, the United Way raises funds for its member groups. But in order to be eligible to receive money for their endeavours, the members have to become organized and registered as charitable organizations.

The system compels members to enhance and develop the structure of their organizations -- the result of which is a more effective network of territorial-wide agencies available to help Nunavummiut.

"It assists people who fall through the cracks, especially with the way the new government has set itself up," said Joshie Mitsima, the executive director of the Illitit Society.

He said all too often, people in need of assistance go to the income-support program, but are turned away because they don't meet criteria for needs assessment.

They turn to the Department of Health and Social Services for help and are then too often shuffled off to Inuit organizations. "Some people end up going all over the place for assistance," said Mitsima.

But through the donation of money through payroll deductions or at various fundraisers, people who require help will be able to get it immediately.