A sample of the gift packages being assembled for Inuvik Kindergarten graduates by Lenora McLeod. McLeod wanted to recognize the young students for persevering through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inuvik’s littlest scholars are getting the recognition they deserve thanks to the efforts of a group of parents who are assembling small gift baskets and a graduation ceremony for the town’s kindergarten graduates in June.

Lenora McLeod has been asking around town for parents of children in kindergarten to contact her since the start of May. So far, she’s recruited a few volunteers to help her organize the memento.

She said the idea behind the celebration was to recognize the students for coping with the stresses put on them by COVID-19.

My own daughter, she understands there’s a virus and it’s important that we stay home and not visit people but she misses her friends and going to school,” she said. “I had just picked up my daughter’s first school package and saw that her grad photo booklet was in there and I thought that it was really sad we wouldn’t be able to have the usual big celebration for them and see all the cute outfits and traditional stoles.

“They deserve to be celebrated before the summer begins; they did a wonderful job this year given our current circumstances. They’ve listened to the rules, as hard as they might have been and weren’t able to play with any of their friends for almost two months. So it’s a gift for them to say ‘Happy Kindergarten Graduation! You did it! And enjoy your summer because you’re a star!'”

Although a firm date for the celebration has yet to be set, McLeod said she was eyeing the end of June so she could set up a good backdrop to take graduation photos on the river.

This was a first time experience for McLeod, who said the response from the community has been amazing. Aside from offers to make cupcakes and help out with the ceremony, a number of local businesses stepped up to the plate to help cover costs too.

“A lot of parents have offered their time. It’s wonderful to see the community come together, especially business,” said McLeod. “As of today, Carmen from the News Stand has donated a coupon to redeem for a treat and Rino from Stanton Group as donated a $150.00 gift certificate for pick up goodies to include in the gift bag.

So shout out to the individuals who are helping me get everything together and providing items for the gift bags, to the News Stand and Stanton Group for their generous donations and especially to the kids for being so amazing during this pandemic.”

Each package will include a homemade cupcake and small little knickknacks like bubbles, glasses, a key chain and other goodies. McLeod says so far she’s connected with 18 parents but believes there are about 60 kids in the area so she’s asking anyone with children completing kindergarten to reach out to her by email at lenorajmcleod@gmail.com and was hoping to have the packages assembled by mid-June.

She expressed her thanks to the community, which she said has come together and really was what got the ball rolling.

I may have initiated this but the support I have received from parents and other community members have really helped make this far better than I imagined,” said McLeod. “I will have the gifts ready whenever they can be picked up after the initial date. My plan is to send a mass email with a date when people can pick up their packages and take photos and go from there.

I just think of it as a really big birthday party.”


Eric Bowling

Breaking News Reporter and Digital Editor for NNSL, Eric operates out of Inuvik in the Beaufort Delta. He's four years into his Northern adventure and is eager to learn more about life in the Arctic Circle....

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