Young pilot’s short Nunavut stint leads to big charity drive
Snowsuit fund helps Nunavummiut stay warm
The Nunavut career launch of a young pilot who’s since moved on has become the starting point for an ongoing volunteer effort to collect warm winter clothing for people in Nunavut.
Ottawa resident Patti-Ann Scrivens began the Nunavut Snowsuit Fund on the suggestion of her pilot son Christopher, who saw many in Nunavut needed more warm outdoor clothing during the cold winter.
“We have a lot to offer in Ottawa, and people don’t realize that we have so much in our closets that we’re not even wearing,” Scrivens said.
The fund now receives donations of coats, snow pants, boots, mitts and other winter wear, which are shipped up regularly from Ottawa on Canadian North and then distributed by the RMCP.
The clothing donation collection and distribution started last year when Scrivens’ son, then 20, asked his mother to bring up some warm clothing for children in Iqaluit.
“He thought of this, and then we thought it was sort of a flop,” said Scrivens.
That’s because shipping costs for the seven bags of clothing she had collected would have been “horrific” — costing more than $1,700 to ship to Iqaluit from Ottawa.
Back in Ottawa, still trying to figure out a way to send clothing north, Scrivens spotted a man wearing a Canadian North hat who happened to be a marketing manager for the airline — Mark Wood.
Scrivens spoke to him and learned that Wood and his wife had both worked in the North for several years.
Through that chance encounter, Scrivens found her solution to the problem of costly shipping.
“Canadian North stepped up to the plate and said ‘your troubles are over – we can ship those up for you’,” she said.
So far, the airline has sent more than 60 bags of winter clothing to Nunavut.
“They’ve saved us a lot of money and they’ve actually done a lot of good for the territory of Nunavut.”
After a co-pilot’s job with Air Nunavut and a three-month stint with Keewatin Air ended, Scriven’s son moved on to a pilot’s job with Northern Air Services in Alberta.
But the Nunavut Snowsuit Fund continues, thanks to his mother’s work and donations from Ottawa residents.
Recent efforts have drawn support from Metcalfe-Carleton MP Pierre Polievre and Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkak, who have been collecting snowsuits, winter gloves and hats at the House of Commons.
Nunavut RCMP members have also played a key role by distributing the donated winter clothing from Iqaluit to other communities throughout the territory.
Cpl. Yvonne Niego has received several shipments from Canadian North over the past two months, and relayed them to other detachments on a police charters.
“Officers then find a local resource, such as social services, income support, the schools, or some agency that will help the detachment where the outdoor clothing should go,” she said.
Besides Iqaluit, communities that have benefitted so far include Kimmirut, Sanikiluaq, Hall Beach, Igloolik, and Kugluktuk.
Niego recalled a client of a social services agency who was set to start a new job, but needed outdoor clothing.
“One of the workers was actually going to bring in one of her own [coats] for the person to borrow, and I just happened to show up that day with a shipment,” said Niego. “So she benefited.”
Donations to the fund are usually “new or gently-used,” said Niego.
In Iqaluit she has distributed donations to schools, parents and tots’ programs, the patient boarding home in Iqaluit, shelters, and to others in need.
“From what I’ve seen, there are some really good-quality items,” said Niego — “better than some of the stuff my kids use,” she laughed.
To donate in Ottawa, you can bring your new or gently-used outdoor winter gear to these locations by the end of March:
• MacKinnons Foodland in Greely;
• Wallace Service Centre, 5217 Bank St.;
• Metcalfe Variety in Metcalfe; and,
• Two Monkeys Coffee and Teahouse, 4100 Standherd Dr.