A large group of kids gathered at John Ayaruaq Library at Maani Ulujuk Ilinnarvik for a special afternoon highlighted by RCMP officers and volunteer firemen – and their vehicles – on Aug. 8 in Rankin Inlet.
The Meet Your Local Heroes initiative was the brainchild of the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre in Rankin, and its new executive director, Charlene Williams-Kaludjak, who took over the position on June 3.
And, if pure joy on the faces of the kids who attended the event is anything to go by, the initiative was a tremendous success.
Williams-Kaludjak said Pulaarvik’s entire organization has had staff issues during the past few years.
She said the organization has seen a lot of turnover, which really affected community programming.
“We have a large number of different agreements with different partners, and one of those is the money we receive from the Government of Nunavut for staffing to keep the John Ayaruaq Library open here in Rankin,” said Williams-Kaludjak.
“And that’s, basically, all we’ve done for the past year and a bit.
“We’ve had a librarian here to keep the doors open during the publicly-posted hours, but we haven’t been doing any programming.
“Pulaarvik has the prenatal program, the preschool program, spousal abuse counsellors and mental health workers – which everyone is pretty much aware of – but the library has been super stagnant during the past year and it’s time to change that.”
Williams-Kaludjak said the idea behind Meet Your Local Heroes was to have a big kickoff for the message that Pulaarvik is going to have a lot more library programming available in the near future.
She said in the meantime, it was great to have so many kids come out to see all that the library still has to offer, and to have a great time interacting with the RCMP officers and local firefighters.
“It was a chance for the kids to meet some of the people who they don’t always get a chance to talk to on a one-on-one basis.
“The idea was to raise awareness through an event, so I contacted the RCMP, the firefighters and the health centre and they all agreed to come.”
Williams-Kaludjak said the kids absolutely loved being able to get inside a police vehicle and a fire truck.
She said to be honest, she and her co-workers weren’t expecting so people to show-up for the event.
“Our summer librarian (Tagalik Eccles) bought 20 juice boxes because it was the first time we did anything at the library in a really long time, so we didn’t want to go overboard,” she said.
“We were extremely surprised and overwhelmed by the number of people who came, but very, very happy with the outcome.
“Increasing programming at the library is on my priority list. We’re looking at setting a three-month schedule that will have programs being held in the afternoons and evenings.”
Williams-Kaludjak said Pulaarvik is purchasing craft supplies to do different types of projects and programs moving forward.
She said they don’t want to keep the same programming all the time, which is why they’re looking at the three-month schedules.
“We’re also looking for seamstresses we can hire so they can start teaching a summer amauti- and snuggly-making program.
“We’re also trying to find some carpenters to teach young men how to make meat-drying racks, but we’re having a hard time finding them right now because they’re all so busy with summer being construction season.
“The turnout for Meet Your Local Heroes showed that the kids will come when there’s organized activities available, and that was, kind of, our goal.
“We wanted to show we’re here as a public organization and the library isn’t just about books. Our doors are open and everyone is welcome.”