It’s been a busy month in Tuktoyaktuk.
Not only has the community been bustling with the start of the school year, but several sets of care packages were distributed throughout the community, starting with sewing kits but also including equipment like chainsaws and generators and even six smoke huts.
“They build six smoke houses and took out a request for interest,” said Mayor Erwin Elias. “Six lucky people received some smokehouses in the community.
“Majority of the kids are back at school and are really excited.”
Elias said the hamlet has been an active place, with work being done refurbishing roads, clean-up projects on the Tuk Island Esso drilling site, a series of home beatifications and a number of local mini-festivals, including this last weekend.
Gospel singers were joined by Howie McLeod and Michael Francis for a weekend of song, which included drive through barbecues, community gatherings and other activities.
Noting the community had been coping with a number of deaths over the summer, Elias said it was important to get together and do something positive.
“It seems the only time we’re gathering right now is for a funeral, so we want to change that,” he said. “So we’re having a cookout, entertainment and a sing-along and an open mic as well. I think we’ll have a really good weekend here, weather permitting.
“So far it’s holding up, but things can change within a day up here.”
However, he noted the various authorities around the hamlet have taken advantage of several funding opportunities to promote wellness and get people working.
“There’s been a lot of employment at the hamlet using some small community funding,” said Elias. “We’ve been doing a lot of work and getting a lot of people hired with that. Tuk community corporation got some money to hire people too, so they’ve been doing a lot of beautification work like repainting houses and we just finished doing a road upgrade.”
He added the hamlet has seen some success under the Northern Staycation initiative, with several people coming out to visit the community, camp on the point and check out the berry picking opportunities along the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway.
Elias said it was important to engage with all members of the community and keep them occupied as the community was likely going to be under the shadow of Covid-19 for some time.
“We’ve just got to play it by ear,” he said. “We’ll see if we get to the next phase or if we end up having to shut the schools back down again.
“Hopefully we get to see something soon. Covid-19 is playing a really big role in the community. Not being able to open our facilities for people who like to volunteer, there’s not much for everyone to do in the community.”
He thanked the community for its continued efforts in maintaining social distancing and staying healthy.
“We’ve just got get people out of their homes and keep everybody active,” said Elias. “We’re doing the best that we can and we’re trying not to miss certain age groups. There’s lots of work, but it still is limited, so we’re trying to capture everyone here.
“We’ve got Kitti Hall open to a certain extent, in compliance with the Covid-19 rules, but we’re trying to hit every age group. If there’s nothing to do, people start wandering around and get into the alcohol and vandalism. We’re trying to avoid that as best as we can.
“You can tell people are tired of staying in and tired of doing nothing, so we’re identifying it and trying to get something going before things get too bad. We have to keep people busy and it has to happen across the whole Delta. Communities have to step up.”