If all goes well over the next few weeks, Joanne Weedmark just might bring some big money to Kinngait.
Weedmark, the community’s acting director of recreation, is one of nine finalists from around Canada that are in the running to be named the winner of The Next Stride. It’s a competition being run by the Canadian Adult Recreational Hockey Association (CARHA) and whoever wins the competition will earn a $10,000 donation for their community.
All Weedmark needs is your vote.
The competition is being run under CARHA’s #HockeyVacciNation campaign, which is designed to promote people doing good things in their communities, no matter if it’s related to hockey or not. Nominations were accepted from June through August with three people or groups chosen in each month, known as the Three Stars. Each selected nominee won $500 for their community and moved on to the finals.
Weedmark was nominated by Elizabeth Katcheea, the now-former manager of Kinngait’s arena and youth centre.
In her nomination, Katcheea said Weedmark has shown incredible leadership and commitment to bettering her community through her new position.
“She is doing an amazing job running the recreation department, going above and beyond trying do more for her community and I am extremely proud of her,” she said.
As for the nomination itself, Weedmark said she was stunned when she was notified.
“I couldn’t believe it, I was so happy,” she said.”I never looked into it too much before that but then the community received the donation.”
Weedmark said she put her prize toward buying healthy food and snacks for youth that visit the community’s youth centre.
“We made some homemade beef stew for the kids and they loved it,” she said. “The money was gone in less than a week.”
One of the big reasons Weedmark was nominated was due to her work on the community’s radio station during the four-week lockdown back in April and May.
Weedmark said she was looking for a way to try and keep the community connected and upbeat while almost everything was shut down.
“I looked around to see what I could do,” she said. “I heard that Arviat had done radio games and I read some things on Facebook about it and the people there had a lot of fun. I thought I could do the same thing here so I got the ideas from what Arviat did and the community really encouraged me to do it.”
The radio station was on for 11 hours per day during the shutdown with seven hours dedicated to the games, she added, while the weekends were set aside for clergy in the community to speak to residents in both English and Inuktitut.
“We have three churches here and they were closed also,” she said. “I asked if they wanted to read verses on the air because a lot of people here couldn’t go to church. It was very popular and people just needed to hear some positive words.”
The radio games paid out prizes for youth in the community as 11 bicycles were given out over the course of the four weeks.
Sport 4 Life helped out with funding to get the bikes and Weedmark said they were very well-received.
“A lot of youth here don’t have bikes and those who do use bikes as transportation to get around town,” she said.
If Weedmark is chosen as the winner, she would like to see the $10,000 go toward purchasing much-needed hockey equipment for youth in the community as well as buying more healthy food items to ensure people eat as well as they can.
“A lot of kids here don’t have the equipment to play hockey and a lot of them don’t get to play hockey at all,” she said. “They have no chance to play so I want to get more equipment so the kids can play. I also would like to get some more food, especially for baking. we have baking nights once a week but we don’t always have the supplies on hand. Food security is such a big issue here, especially in the last few months, and we don’t have a food bank in the community.”
Voting began on Sept. 6 and will run until Sept. 24. You can cast your vote by going to the competition website — thenextstride.ca/vote — but you only get one vote per e-mail address.