The hamlet of Rankin Inlet took a cautious step towards life as usual by allowing a bingo game to be held in the community on a trial basis in support of its recreation department this past Friday, April 24.
Rankin recreation co-ordinator David Clark said he had been pushing for a game to be allowed by hamlet council for awhile and presented a plan for the game during a special meeting of hamlet council on April 23.
Clark said the game, at this point, is a one-time deal and the results will be assessed at hamlet council this week.
“Council will review how things went and get feedback from the community and, if everyone followed the rules that we posted, I can’t see why we couldn’t be doing this for the time being,” he said.
“If a case of Covid-19 were to come to Rankin Inlet, then that would be a different issue and this kind of thing just couldn’t happen.
“But, in the meantime, we’re losing a lot of our fundraising ability and the bills don’t go away. And, at the same time, it gives some of our community members something to do on an evening or so.”
Bingo is, indeed, a huge fundraiser for the hamlet and many organizations would struggle to exist without it in the community.
Clark said he’s been trying to keep people updated on the situation as much as he can but, since the Covid-19 shutdown happened before a meeting could be held to allocate the weekly game night slots, he doesn’t even have an existing bingo schedule at the moment.
He said until things change with the current situation, there’s just no sense in moving ahead to create a new schedule.
“Hamlet council has been meeting in the rec hall because council chamber is just too small to practise social distancing, so it was kind of nice for me to have the actual area that was going to be used available to demonstrate how we were going to run this bingo.
“The councillors had questions and concerns, naturally, and they also brought up some good points that we implemented into the rules for this game, such as special times dedicated to those in the community with compromised immune systems to purchase their tickets, as well as a special time for elders too.
“A lot of what was planned for the bingo – special purchase time for elders, lines on the floors and Plexiglass separating the workers from those buying the cards – are all ideas we borrowed from our grocery stores.
“Concerns were also raised of other hamlets maybe copycatting our efforts, as Rankin is often seen as a leader in our region, and bingo is often seen as a gathering, so the councillors had concerns over people gathering in each-other’s homes to play bingo and we strongly suggested to the community that they not do that at this time.”
Clark said he had no expectations concerning the game other than he hoped everyone participating would follow the rules so, at least, the possibility of other bingo games could be looked at.
“Again, I’d like to stress all this is not to say this is going to keep happening. This is a one-time trial and, if successful, it will probably still be reviewed on a week-to-week basis.
“The funds raised for this game will go directly to the recreation department. We’ve lost six bingo games during this time and it’s hurting our department financially, that’s for sure.
“We haven’t been running as many events as we normally do because of Covid-19 but we still have bills to pay. Running two big buildings is not cheap.
“Things should go smoothly if everyone follows the rules and, given the situation and the fact we’re all adults, then, as a community, no one should have any difficulty doing that in order to help protect everyone’s safety.”