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Not even a week after Inuvik’s only non-profit Spay and Neuter service for low income families announced it will no longer use bingos for fundraising after a missed call led to players threatening and harassing volunteers, the community of Inuvik is stepping up to support the essential non-profit.

Leading the charge is Dez Loreen, who is waiting on approval from Protect NWT to put on a benefit comedy and open mic night in March to help Arctic Paws keep the lights on.

“They really need a leg up here,” said Loreen. “Bingos are a huge-intake for groups up here.”

Sponsored by Northwind and being planned for a tentative March 20 night at the Midnight Sun Complex starting 9 p.m., the night will feature both family-friendly comedy at the forefront and adult-oriented comedy later in the night, interspersed with music and storytelling from volunteer musicians.

Loreen was still booking volunteers, but noted several people had already signed up to tell jokes and stories, and Welder’s Daughter has offered to pre-record songs for the event. Loreen said anyone who wanted to sign up to play music, tell stories or otherwise perform — excluding playing wind instruments, singing and dancing due Covid-19 restrictions — to contact him at dezloreen@gmail.com or over Facebook.

“I’ve been told that we can’t sing or use wind instruments, so unfortunately all the oboe players in town are going to be out of luck,” joked Loreen. “But anyone who has a guitar, you’re more than welcome to come in.

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“I want to put on a night for this town where everyone can just laugh, relax and people share their art.”

Tickets to the night are being floated at $20 and all proceeds will go straight to Arctic Paws to help the organization continue to bring in veterinary clinics and spay and neuter services for the town. Loreen said he had capacity for up to 30 people in attendance and was planning to stream the show live for people who would rather watch from home. The event will not be licensed nor will there be food sold, though Loreen added he was looking into the potential to have people book tables and have “food bags” similar to how the town handled a recent movie night.

Arctic Paws announced it would no longer host bingos after a Feb. 13 Valentine’s Day bingo turned into a nightmare for the volunteers, who endured both threats and harassment in person, on Facebook and over their phones after a misunderstanding about whether ball N36 had been called or not.

While a number of people have argued the incident should just be left to gather dust, Loreen said it was important to remember when these things happen so that the community can learn and grow together.

“Arctic Paws got shafted. They really did,” he said. “It’s embarrassing. It’s downright embarrassing, and this organization has lost a lot of income because they just don’t feel comfortable doing this anymore.

“Bros, we’ve got to help them out.”

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Eric Bowling

Covering all things related to the Beaufort Delta, Eric Bowling is your editor for the Inuvik Drum. He came north after cutting his teeth in Alberta. Eric enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee.

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