City of Iqaluit unveils fund to help low-income kids go swimming
Jimmy Kilabuk Children’s Recreation Fund will help poor families gain access to aquatic centre
Children who watched the opening of Iqaluit’s new aquatic centre come and go because their families can’t afford the admission fee will now get a chance to apply for help, thanks to a new funding program launched April 18.
The Jimmy Kilabuk Children’s Recreation Fund—named in honour of the late former mayor and municipal councillor—will help about 200 low-income families get passes to the pool this year.
It’s the first phase of a fund the city wants to expand to include other programs at the facility.
The city announced it has committed about $100,000 to the project this year through its REACH fundraising program.
“It was his last wish that Iqaluit city council approve this project,” said Coun. Simon Nattaq, who spoke alongside Mayor Madeleine Redfern and other city officials and councillors at a brief media event held at the aquatic centre.
“He was always supportive of families and keen to see children flourish.”
The 200 family passes will allow hundreds of children to make it to the pool, since they won’t be issued to a single individual, recreation director Amy Elgersma told Nunatsiaq News.
Elgersma said through a combination of public grants and calls for private donations the city wants to collect about $400,000 for the new fund.
In a short tribute to Kilabuk, Nattaq said the former councillor, who died in 2013, warned of putting access to the pool outside the reach of local families, “especially the children.”
Kilabuk’s widow, Annie Nowdlak, attended the launch, accepting a commemorative award from the city on behalf of her late-husband’s dedicated service to the facility’s creation.
The mayor and city councillors stressed the creation of just such a fund to help low-income families as soon as possible, before the aquatic centre opened its doors Jan. 26.
An annual family pass to the pool—for five or fewer people—costs $1,680, while a family pass for both the pool and fitness centre costs $2,100 per year.
Some local Iqalungmmiut have already taken it upon themselves to raise money for individual children to swim through a private campaign.
Kristof Karcza, a local resident, donated $2,000 of his own money, while accepting other donations, to purchase 565 drop-in passes for local children and youth, the city confirmed.
Those passes were to be distributed to schools, boarding homes and other public services following the Easter long weekend, Karcza announced in a public Facebook post.
An application form for families interested in applying for the city’s fund is available on the aquatic centre website here.