Women in Action group raises $90,000 in second walk for cancer
“People of Whale Cove really set the tone at the start for us"
This year’s Steps of Hope campaign wrapped up Aug. 19 when Edna Elias, Commissioner of Nunavut, presented a $90,000 cheque for breast cancer research to the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton.
The campaign, which saw four women trek 113 km from Whale Cove to Rankin Inlet over three days in May 2014, marked the second time the group, Women in Action, raised money for breast cancer research.
“People of Whale Cove really set the tone at the start for us,” said Sue Ball, one of the women who participated in the trek. “It was fantastic.”
People lined the street, she said, and the mayor drummed up moral and financial support.
Ball, along with Bernadette Dean, Wynter Blaise and Jesse Mike completed the entire journey but a lung condition prevented Elias from making the trek as she had in the Bay Chimo to Cambridge Bay Women in Action walk in 2012.
Elias did join the others on the first day as they departed Whale Cove, walking 13 kms while the weather was sunny and fair.
The final two days saw increasing headwinds which made for a challenging walk.
“Our faces got pretty red the last two days,” Ball said.
Blaise and Mike, being the younger two, set the pace and rhythm for the other women, she added.
“We told stories to each other. We gave each other moral support.”
Ball said one of the most rewarding aspects of the experience was talking to people and hearing their stories of how cancer has touched their lives.
“Everyone knows someone who’s been affected,” she said.
It was an educational experience for Ball too.
A friend and past participant of the trek began the walk with the group but had to pull out because of health concerns left over from an earlier successful bout with cancer.
“Even when it’s gone, it’s not over,” Ball said. “The effects of chemo and radiation, they’re still there.”
One of the highlights for Elias was meeting Imelda Naalaktuq, a Whale Cove woman currently battling cancer. Naalaktuq couldn’t make the trek, but the women presented her with a walking jacket.
“Meeting her in person meant a lot to me,” Elias said.
The women exceeded their fundraising goal by $10,000 and say they are very grateful to those who donated money and to those who provided support, including their two Rankin Inlet guides for the walk, Ball said.
Originally, Steps of Hope was to happen every two years, but Elias is reconsidering.
“I have less than a year in my term (as commissioner) and women in the Baffin region want to do a walk, so I wouldn’t mind doing one while I’m still living over here,” she said.