‘Summer Santas’ deliver $16K in prizes for Tuk youth
Canadians have sent $16,000 in food, treats, toys, books, and more to help RCMP in Tuktoyaktuk hand out prizes to local youth.
Police have for two years run a Mini Mountie program in the NWT community, in which RCMP officers read stories, and give presentations on issues like ice or snowmobile safety.
As part of the program at Tuktoyaktuk’s Mangilaluk School, students can win prizes when they create artwork and posters. But coming across good prizes in the remote community has proved tricky, RCMP said in a news release on Wednesday.
Tuktoyaktuk RCMP approached a Facebook group entitled Northern Canada Mini Projects for help. The group, which has around 450 members, states it is dedicated to “helping northern schools, food banks, soup kitchens, Elder groups, mental health initiatives, and other groups with small projects via envelope and box challenges.”
A post by group administrator Cindy Dhillon in January resulted in a steady stream of donations by mail over the past six months.
“I have one room full as we speak,” said Tuktoyaktuk’s Cst Matt Ryan in the RCMP’s news release. “I have received donations from every province.”
On June 25, Dhillon shared photos of Tuk youth with items delivered by “Summer Santas” farther south.
So many donations were received that RCMP say an Elders’ program, in which police officers bake and cook with community Elders, has now been established. Clothing and sewing supplies are being donated to the local women’s shelter.
In the same news release, Ephraim Warren – principal of Mangilaluk School – said: “It’s a great way for our kids to get to know and be aware of the RCMP. It’s a very positive thing, a good connection between the RCMP and the school.
“The families are very happy to have this program. We have a monthly assembly to announce the winner, and kids are looking forward to it.”
The Mini Mountie program was devised by Cst Stephanie Leduc, who runs the same thing at the neighbouring Inuvik detachment. Leduc and Inuvik RCMP have had a similar arrangement with the same Facebook page since August 2019.