With the ferries closed and the ice roads weeks away, Aklavik’s isolation is presenting some difficulties leading up to the Christmas holiday this year.
To meet those challenges, a dedicated group of volunteers is running a Christmas toy drive for the hamlet, with a $7,000 fundraising goal of getting one present per child.
“This time last year, people were already driving to Inuvik,” said co-organizer Clarissa Gordon, who is collecting donations alongside Mina McLeod, Heather Evans, Karine Belisle, Janine Johnson, Megan Lennie and Amanda Reynolds. “We only have two grocery stores and they’re very limited for Christmas presents — they don’t have toys or anything.
“Half the town doesn’t have a bank card, because we don’t have a bank in our community. Many families can’t afford a plane ticket or a boat to go to Inuvik to even get a bank card, so we have many families that don’t have access to online shopping.
“All those barriers are why we’re doing the Christmas drive.”
With the ice road not likely until December, assembling toys in time for Christmas comes with some significant logistical hurdles, such as the fact everything needs to be flown in, increasing the costs of items.
Consequentially, Gordon noted there was a hard deadline to actually order the items online to ensure they reach the community in time. She noted the cause has received great support so far, with donations from the Hamlet of Aklavik, Aklavik Community Corporation, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Northern Store and SDC Drilling.
It’s been a busy month for the team of six, who have been working around the clock to raise funds, selling raffle tickets, dinner plates and other services to bring in enough money for the project. Gordon added she was accepting cash donations until Nov. 19 and toy donations all the way until Christmas.
“If you were to go shopping and you wanted to buy an extra gift, you can sent that to us,” said Gordon. “It’s just the fact we have to order online, and during the Christmas season things get backlogged, so that’s why we have the deadline for Nov. 19 for cash donations. But if you’re sending Christmas toys or presents, then by all means do that.
“We’re aware of the struggle of living so far up North, in such an isolated community. So we wanted to do this drive to take some stress off families and make some kids happy.”
Toy donations can be mailed to Heather Evans at PO Box 42, Aklavik, NT, X0E 0A0. Gordon said anyone who wants to donate money or help out should contact her over Facebook to get the email for sending an EMT.