Northern News Services
Thanks to Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Geordie and his uncle Jimmy each won an 18-foot boat equipped with a 60-horsepower Yamaha outboard motor at the Hunter's Support Program draw on Sept. 6.
And the winners are:
- 340 Polaris snowmobile: Sarah Sallerina, Dennis Qirqqut, Tukkiq Irqqiut and Jerry Arqviq.
- Boat and motor: Jimmy Pauloosie, Moses Kigeak, Geordie Pauloosie
- Honda 350 ATV: Martha Kogvik, Mark Hummiktuk
Geordie knew that he qualified for the draw that evening, but did not attend the draw as he had been working hard all day long.
He was asleep in bed when he heard his girlfriend calling out to him, informing him of the exciting news.
Geordie said he jumped out of bed and rushed over to the local HTO office.
"I couldn't believe it. I thought I was dreaming," he exclaimed.
It's been quite difficult for Geordie and his relatives to hunt and provide traditional food for their families. They have never owned a boat, he said, and have relied upon the kindness of friends, borrowing their boats every once in a while.
"Now it's going to be a lot easier. I won't have to ask other people. "I'll hardly be home now," he laughed. "I'll be out lots!"
Now, he said, he will be out caribou hunting, fishing, "anything you can do with a boat."
Old system not a big draw
The goal of the Hunter's Support Program is to help Inuit beneficiaries like Geordie over the hunting season. NTI provided almost $84,000 to the Gjoa Haven HTO for the program this year. On Sept. 6, members of the HTO awarded four Polaris 340 snowmobiles, three 18-foot boats with motors and two Honda 350 all-terrain vehicles to nine lucky qualifying residents.
To qualify for the draw, Inuit beneficiaries are required to meet a number of criteria.
Each successful applicant must have a gross annual salary of no more than $75,000 per year and not been approved for equipment funded by the Hunter's Support Program over the past five years.
Successful applicants also had to specify that they would be using the equipment for harvesting purposes.
HTO chair Louie Kamookak said recipients were chosen a little differently this year. In previous years, equipment was awarded to individuals chosen by the HTO board members during their meetings.
But Kamookak said some people were not happy with that method, claiming board members showed favouritism. So this year, they decided to change the routine and hold a draw instead.
"This way people felt it was more fair," said Kamookak.
Over 200 attend event
Thirty-one people were entered in the snowmachine category, 26 were in the boat and motor category, and 34 in the Honda ATV category. The HTO also held a door-prize draw for two fishing rods and a wolverine skin.
"There was a really big turnout. We had over 200 people this year," said Kamookak.
One of the fishing rods went to the most senior elder in the community, Judas Akargeak, who is more than 80 years old.
"We're not sure exactly how old he his. One time my kids asked him when is his birthday and he said he doesn't have birthdays," he laughed.
All equipment arrived on the sealift last week in the community of about 1,000 people.
Kamookak said because so many people were interested in applying this year, he hopes NTI will provide more funding next year.
"This program is very important for people who really can't afford to get their own equipment to hunt for their families," he said.
"I think every one of them have the same story, that they really needed a boat."
"So we hope to continue with it here in Gjoa Haven," he said.