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    NNSL Photo/Graphic

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    Soup kitchen stalled by lack of volunteers

    Herb Mathisen
    Northern News Services
    Published Monday, August 18, 2008

    IQALUIT - George Aulaqiaq has been visiting, and volunteering with, the soup kitchen in Iqaluit for years and is happy to hear it will be back up serving the homeless lunch in September.

    "People are so hungry on the streets," he said.

    NNSL Photo/Graphic

    Qayuqtukik Society board member Peter Scott says the new soup kitchen building has been stalled because the power corporation has not installed permanent power to the building. - Herb Mathisen/NNSL photo

    The question is whether the kitchen will be handing out food from the back of a temporarily-donated building or out of the new 60-seat soup kitchen, currently being constructed near Nakasuk school.

    "There is still quite a lot of work to be done on the soup kitchen," said Peter Scott, a member of the Qayuqtukik Society, which oversees the program. "I was hoping for an end-of-summer opening or early September."

    A tour of the building showed most of the structure had been completed, save a few sets of stairs and a ramp, but there was a lot of work that needed to be done to furnish - "and finish" the building, said Scott.

    He said there were two things holding up its completion. Permanent power has not yet been installed to the building. He said they had applied for the service two months ago with the Qulliq Energy Corporation and paid a $2,000 deposit, but have yet to receive anything.

    "If we don't have power into the building, there is not a lot we can do to move forward. We can't fire up the boilers on a permanent basis," he said, adding that consistent heat is required to finish much of the work indoors.

    A spokesperson for the Qulliq Energy Corporation had not provided an update on the society's request by press time.

    The kitchen is without equipment, and Scott said it needs to be cleaned and installed before flooring and cabinetry can be put in.

    The project has relied upon volunteer support from the community and the completion of the building is at the mercy of when people can schedule time.

    Scott said a pre-trades training program for inmates released to the halfway house accounted for much of the construction of the building. Four of five of the nine participants passed their pre-trade requirements thanks to the project and were moving ahead with their apprenticeships.

    Scott said much of that work took place in the early spring, however, adding that with so many people gone on holidays or being busy, the work has stalled.

    "If the building isn't ready, we'll be serving out of the old building," he said.

    The old building Scott referred to is located near the legion, and is loaned to the organization to operate the service. There is no kitchen in the building, so meals are prepared at the parish hall and transported down to the room.

    Capt. Russ Blanchet, who is involved in running the soup kitchen, is out of town until the end of August and was unavailable for comment.

    A portion of the new building will be subleased to the Piviniit society, which will operate a thrift store.

    Yvonne Earle, president of the Piviniit board, said while the hope is the store will be able to donate profits to social causes in the community, it will still need to make money to pay its rent and operation.

    "We don't plan to build a big bank account," said Earle.

    The rent charged by the Qayuqtukik Society - which is leasing the land from the Anglican church for $1 a year - will pay for the operation of the building.

    She said it could possibly be a training venue for people who need to learn job skills.

    The board has also discussed donating items such as clothing to families in need, such as fire victims.

    The Piviniit Society already has two sea containers full of donations.

    "We cannot accept any donations until we have the storage space (of the building)," said Earle.

    "This building is an absolute dream come true," said Scott, adding that with the location, he expects to see kids from the school visiting the kitchen. "It's a $1.2 million building on a $600,000 budget."