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Raising money for burned churches

Shirley Kirkwa “did it for the Lord”
Shirley Kirkwa, middle, is joined by daughter Eva, right, and Tarraq Violet Innukshuk for her walk. Photo courtesy of Eva Kirkwa

She uses a walker and has arthritis, but that wasn’t stopping Rankin Inlet’s Shirley Kirkwa in her determination to raise money for the burned churches in Kinngait Saturday, Sept. 9.

“The Lord was bugging me to fundraise,” said Kirkwa, who decided she would walk from the outskirts of Rankin Inlet to Iyirallik and back and collect donations for the two churches in Kinngait that were damaged in fires this January. “I can’t say no, so I just go ahead and walk. I did it for the Lord.”

She left at 9:20 a.m. and didn’t return until 6:30 p.m. that evening.

“Some of the road had so many rocks,” said Kirkwa, who uses a walker to get around. “It was kind of difficult. I needed to stop so many times to sit down, relax, ease my muscles and my arthritis on my knee. It was kind of tough.”

At times, she considered quitting, especially when the fog and rain were fighting her.

“I still went ahead because we were getting close to our destination, so I didn’t give up,” said Kirkwa.

When she left, she was way too hot and sweating, but by the time she got back, she was freezing.

“I felt so humbled,” said Kirkwa about finishing the walk. “Tears were coming down. They were honking all the trucks and still giving out donation money, encouraging me. Even little children asked to give donation money.”

In total, she raised $659.25.

After a short parade, Kirkwa had supper and went to bed for a good rest.

“Just a little bit muscle ache on my arms and my arthritis on my leg,” she said about how she was feeling the next morning. “A little bit but not that much. I’m okay.”

It was her first time doing a walk like this, and she said she’d be up for doing it again.

“I would like to thank everybody who gave donation money, juice, encouragement,” said Kirkwa. “I would like to thank Violet Innukshuk and my daughter Eva for going (with me). I wasn’t alone.”

For anyone else planning a similar fundraising venture, Kirkwa advises they get some help.

“I am disabled and people who want to do this walk, they should not be alone,” said Kirkwa. “You never know if you’re in danger, who’s going to help. I didn’t have no cell phone, no rifle, no one to contact. I’m happy people were going back and forth, and I’m happy I wasn’t alone.”

Shirley Kirkwa shows off some of the $659.25 she raised for two burned churches in Kinngait. Photo courtesy of Tarraq Violet Innukshuk
Shirley Kirkwa and Tarraq Violet Innukshuk stop for a photo during the walk. Photo courtesy of Eva Kirkwa