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In honour of Jackie

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Arviat (May 31/06) - The memory of a little girl with a golden smile and a heart to match is being preserved through a kids race in Arviat.

Jacqueline (Jackie) Charlotte Nungnik Kuksuk lost her life in a Honda accident in June of 2004 at the age of 10.

The community was hit hard by the tragedy, losing a little girl known by all as a happy youth and loved by many as a loyal friend.

The mothers - Lorraine Kablutsiak, Laureen Angalik, Sharon Illnik and Jessie Kaludjak - of four of Jackie's closest friends came together a little over a year ago to discuss ideas for more activities for the community's younger residents.

Kaludjak suggested a snowmobile race they could dedicate to Jackie.

The group loved the idea and the annual Nungnik Memorial 120 Sno Challenge was born.

The second race was held in Arviat earlier this month with about 35 youth aged 4 to 13 taking part.

Kaludjak said while none of Jackie's friends will ever forget her, the moms wanted to set up the race to honour her memory.

She said it's a wonderful feeling to see so many people in the community support the event.

"The kids really enjoy participating and they don't see the race as this big win-or-lose event," Kaludjak said.

"They see it as a way to remember Jackie and have a lot of fun.

"Most of the little boys, and some of the little girls, told me they want to be just like their dad and race in the big events someday.

"This is also a good start on their way to accomplishing that goal."

To get the race off to a good start in 2005, each organizer donated $20 to go towards prize money.

This year the moms decided to ask for small donations around town and the Northern store, Co-op, Eskimo Point Lumber, Arviat Racing Club, MLA David Alagalak and craftsperson Brian Gibbons all came through for them.

The race is made even more special by Jackie's parents, David Kuksuk and Juanita King-Kuksuk, helping out.

David starts the races and waves the checkered flag at the finish line.

They both present awards, including a special photo of their daughter.

"They see the race as a wonderful way for the community to remember their daughter," Kaludjak said.

"Jackie was a beautiful little girl who could be a little quiet in public, but always outgoing with her friends.

"They always spent a lot of time sleeping over at each other's homes.

"I will always remember her smile, how happy she was and how helpful she was for her mother."