From the Great Northern Arts Festival to the Inuvik Food Bank, much of what can be enjoyed and appreciated around town is thanks to the hard work of volunteers.
Volunteers like Margaret Miller, who was awarded the second annual Bill Mero Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award by Mayor Natasha Kulikowski Dec. 22 at the Midnight Sun Complex.
Having lived in Inuvik since 1998, Miller is the first individual to be given the award. She has been volunteering in Inuvik for over 20 years.
“I came for five years and decided to stay forever,” she said. “Volunteering is great and there’s so many organizations in town and they all depend on volunteers. They can’t exist without volunteers. So we need everybody who can donate their time and any expertise, like bookkeeping and things like that — we can always do with more volunteers.
“Get in and get your hands dirty.”
Putting her free time into the GNAF, the Inuvik Food Bank and Arctic Paws, Miller said volunteering was a fun way to keep active.
“Bill was a very kind and generous man,” said Miller. “He was a good and kind gentleman and I still see his wife each year when she comes up to visit. We quite often meet at least once a summer to have afternoon tea.
“He won’t be forgotten. He was a great asset to this community.”
Miller noted she got her start volunteering with GNAF after the previous finance officer stepped down and she was ‘talked into it.’
“I have trouble saying no,” she joked. “I have cut down from five to three, and it keeps me going. I’m still breathing and still walking, so as long as I am able to help, I will.”
She added as a cat lover, being involved in pet rescue was particularly rewarding.
“For Arctic Paws,” she said. “I was in it from almost the beginning because I am a cat person and I have friends who have dogs, and there wasn’t much going on for looking after stray dogs.
“We had a great loose dog population here 20-some odd years ago. We rounded them all up and fixed them, and that alleviated the dog problem.”
Mayor Natasha Kulikowski praised Miller’s efforts over the last two decades, noting much of the work she did was transparent.
“Margaret is an excellent volunteer in our community,” said Kulikowski. “(She) is often behind the scenes of an organization, helping with the finances and administration, but can also be seen on the frontlines handing out food hampers and selling bingo cards.
“She is a modest person but a force to be reckoned with and an inspiring force for volunteer activities in Inuvik.”