A Yellowknife MLA has begun selling shirts bearing Dr Kami Kandola’s face to raise money for the Yellowknife Women’s Society and its Arnica Inn housing project.
Kandola is the NWT’s chief public health officer. She has been in charge of directing the NWT government’s response to 2020’s coronavirus pandemic.
Rylund Johnson, the MLA for Yellowknife North, said he hoped the shirts – inspired by others with the names or faces of Canada’s female chief public health officers – would raise money for the Yellowknife Women’s Society and show support for its acquisition of the Arnica Inn.
The shirts, designed by Yellowknife North constituent Beth Covvey, show Kandola’s face with the quote “Be kind to each other” underneath. They were printed at Erasmus Apparel.
“I like the idea that my constituency designed them, then the store that printed them and the [cause] that it will support – in the Arnica – are all within a 200-metre radius,” said Johnson.
“It’s a little sad that it took a pandemic to do it, but I’m hoping to see that project continue to get support.”
The society’s bid to take over the former Arnica Inn hotel and use it as housing for vulnerable people took a while to get off the ground.
A first application for funding, in February this year, was denied by the federal Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Eventually, the Yellowknife Women’s Society received the keys to the Arnica Inn in April.
More than 40 units at the inn are becoming supportive housing – which the society says differs from transitional housing, as some people will always need support and there may not be a place for them to transition to.
The shirts are the first of many fundraising projects Johnson hopes to organizes.
“I’m trying to give away 10 percent of my salary during the public health emergency and I’m just looking for fun and creative ways to do that,” the MLA said.
“I’ve got a few other projects I’ve been working on for food security and other things.”
Dr Kami Kandola’s face is seen next to one of her quotes on a t-shirt. Photo: Supplied
The shirts, which cost $45 each, are available at Erasmus Apparel in Yellowknife. Johnson says he will help get one to you if you do not live in Yellowknife.
“If someone outside of Yellowknife really wants some, I’ll go buy them from Erasmus and ship it to them,” he said.
Johnson is hoping to sell all 150 and be able to donate more than $6,000 to the Yellowknife Women’s Society.
“I think, generally, the North is a very charitable place and most people probably give that at least in, if not money, probably volunteer hours,” he said.
“I’m just doing my part. I don’t really want to think much of it.
“I’m also in another fortunate position. I live on a boat and don’t pay rent so I’m fortunate enough to have some disposable income that can go to some charities during this time.”