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This weekend, I attended the 61st annual Muskrat Jamboree. It is one of the biggest events in Inuvik, and arguably one of the main annual events in the entire territory. I saw my first dog race, my first skidoo race and tried muskrat and muktuk for the first time.

It was an incredible celebration of culture, spring and community. Hundreds of people flocked to the East Three School gymnasiums and the river site to watch and take part in races, contests and local traditions – but ultimately, every event was a way to build community.

And it would not be possible to build community without the hard work of the jamboree volunteers. This was something that was stressed to me by everyone I spoke to at the jamboree, so kudos to all those who dedicated their time to putting together the jamboree year after year. Though I’ve only been to one jamboree, I’m positive that Inuvik wouldn’t be the same without this prominent event.

And Inuvik wouldn’t be the same without its devoted volunteers.

That being said, there are still organizations in town that are lacking in the volunteer department.

This week, I spoke with Sheena Adams, who organizes the Parish Hall Community Kitchen. The kitchen serves lunch to those in need on Saturdays and Sundays every week from Thanksgiving to May.

Adams told me that the kitchen has stable funding for the portion of the year that it is open, but it does not have a large enough volunteer roster to keep up with the demand from the community.

Some of the kitchen’s current volunteers are overworked, and they are looking for more volunteers to ensure the initiative is sustainable.

I encourage all Inuvik residents to consider dedicating a few hours a week to such a volunteer-run organization.

Inuvik is small and I know many community members wear multiple hats, professionally, recreationally, and as volunteers. This is great, and I commend everyone who dedicates their time to multiple organizations.

Sometimes it isn’t always possible – I know people have full time jobs and families and other commitments and extenuating circumstances. But, I know there are people in Inuvik who could stand to give a little bit more of their time back to the community, myself included.

As Adams pointed out to me, volunteering doesn’t just benefit the community, it greatly benefits volunteers themselves as well. The opportunity to learn new things, make new friends and experience a little bit more of your own community is invaluable.

So, if you have a few free hours this week, consider dedicating a few of them to a good cause.

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