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Hundreds of Stanton 'baby balloons' await a family reunion

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Hundreds of balloon-shaped placards bearing the names of babies born in Yellowknife remain awaiting collection as the city's hospital prepares to close.

The "baby balloons" used to line the walls of the Stanton Territorial Hospital maternity ward. For a $100 donation to the hospital's foundation, families could have their child's name and birthday displayed.

But with the hospital is closing at the end of May, the program is ending as well – and unclaimed placards sit in boxes.

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The program began in 2002. The hospital has accumulated around 1,200 balloons since, with the money raised going towards equipment for the maternity floor.

Patty Olexin-Lang, from the hospital foundation, said no decision has been made on whether the program will restart in the new hospital – or whether a different program will begin instead. The new Stanton is set to accept patients from May 26.

Recently, the foundation used Facebook to encourage families to claim the remaining balloons.

“The email was flooded this morning and [requests] continue coming in," said Olexin-Lang on Thursday.

“We will mail balloons out to those that have left Yellowknife or are from communities, and people have picked up on that."

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Staff and volunteers spent two months cleaning drywall and glue off the balloons before digitally cataloguing them, and are now busy shipping them across the country.

One balloon has even journeyed as far away as Australia.

The foundation is hoping most of the balloons will be picked up or shipped out before it moves to the new hospital on May 22, although the balloons will still be available for pickup after the move.

“The balloons will be available until the end of this year,” said Olexin-Lang.

Any remaining balloons will be placed into storage for 2020. “We won't get rid of them entirely,” she said.

If you need your balloon mailed, send sth_admin@gov.nt.ca a message with your child’s name and birthdate, and your address. 

People in Yellowknife can drop by the second floor of the Primary Care Building (the doctors’ offices) across from the downtown Independent to pick up their balloons.

The foundation suggests calling its office at 867-669-7289 before swinging by to make sure someone is around to help.