Fundraising is a big part of life in Inuvik.

Rarely a day goes by when you can’t find someone fundraising for something, whether it’s to cover recurring program costs, helping a youth sports team travel south for a tournament or supporting a family in grief.

It took a lot of fundraising and work for Eleanor Elias to send her daughter Savannah Elias-Beaulieu to two pageants this year.

Just the ticket to entry in her first pageant, Miss Teen Canada Globe in Toronto, this past summer cost the family $3,000.

Providing opportunities for your children is important, but few of us have endless money to do so, which is where pleas to the community come in.

A recurring theme in Inuvik these days is the slumping economy and the effect it’s had on community groups and activities in town.

As Miki O’Kane said about the community Christmas concert this coming Sunday, an entirely volunteer event, the poor economy is “all the more reason to get together and have a joyful event – we need it!”

Based on the success of fundraising efforts, it’s apparent the community supports making these sort of opportunities available for youth.

Beyond donations, a sizeable number of Inuvikians also help by running these programs and taking no pay for doing so.

Whether it’s the Mackenzie Muskrat Swim Club attending a swim meet in Yellowknife or a high school student entering her first pageant in Toronto, these opportunities are more than one-off fun weekends.

These extracurricular activities build youths’ experience, resumes, confidence, career development and future.

Besides the experience performing in front of others, travelling to new places, meeting new people and taking on new challenges, an underrated part of these ventures is networking.

Many youth, more focused on the event at hand, might not realize all the networking they’re doing being part of these excursions. It’s typically cited that networking might be even bigger than one’s resume when it comes to finding a job as an adult, and there’s a lot of truth to that.

Maybe one of the sports coaches owns a mechanic’s shop and remembers a diligent athlete who had an interest in that industry and offers that person an internship. Maybe one of these athletes applies for a big government job as an adult and the recruiter remembers that person’s great attitude at a swim meet five years before. Maybe that friend you met in a Yellowknife volleyball tournament ends up being your business partner.

Elias-Beaulieu’s experience at two pageants this year already has well-known industry players contacting her for fashion shoots. One year of work for her family is going to pay off for the rest of her life.

It’s hard to put a price on building a good reputation.

Even though money’s tight right now, credit to Inuvik for supporting these opportunities for young people.

It doesn’t have to be completely selfless either: we need the best people to steer the world in the right direction and the success of another benefits us all.

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