Hockey fans raise cancer funds in Fort Good Hope

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Northwest Territories residents have been uploading their best hockey fan photos to raise money for the Fort Good Hope Cancer fund.
From left, Damien Haogak, Tori Haogak, Melinda Laboucan, Cheyenne Haogak and Andy Carpenter. photo courtesy of Melinda Laboucan.

Radilih Koe/Fort Good Hope – Families in Fort Good Hope are getting extra help when they need it most, thanks to a community group dedicated to helping those with cancer.

The Goba Group, made up of community volunteers, was established in 2013 and aims to raise awareness about cancer while also providing tangible help to people diagnosed with cancer, said organizer Melinda Laboucan.

“We’re passionate about providing the awareness of the different types of cancer and just making sure that they know that they are also supported too, from everybody here in the community,” she said. “One person doesn’t have to go through their cancer alone, they have the support of everybody back home.”

The group promotes the importance of cancer screening and helps people diagnosed with cancer develop their own survivorship care plans.

They also hold fundraisers throughout the year so they can provide financial help to families, said volunteer Roger Plouffe.

“While they’re gone from their house, they still have heating bills. Sometimes incomes are cut off or reduced,” he said. “We help with extra flights for families, especially for large families. We help out with all of that.”

Fort Good Hope residents diagnosed with cancer usually travel to Edmonton, Alta. for treatment,  which can leave families in uncertain financial situations. Money provided by the Goba Group helps families pay for everything from travel expenses to paying bills.

“We also help out with their shuttle bus or their taxi or their meals,” Laboucan said. “Everybody in Fort Good Hope is so helpful. It’s amazing to see the amount of support.”

The most recent fundraiser launched earlier this month and quickly gained popularity, Laboucan said.

Hockey fans throughout the territory were asked to post a photo representing their favourite hockey teams to Facebook and tag Laboucan. It cost $20 to enter each photo and local RCMP officers judged the winner. The owners of the winning photo were expected to receive half of the money raised.

The winner was scheduled to be announced on May 13 and more than 25 teams had entered photos as of May 11.

Also this month, the group is planning a Traditional Health Week from May 23 to 27, which will include lessons on traditional medicines.

The event will also include local radio interviews with cancer survivors and a community  barbecue.

The Yamoga Land Corp and the K’asho Got’ine Band are expected to help support the event.

Plouffe said he hopes the Goba Group model will encourage other northern communities to form similar groups.

Working together to reduce the fear that comes with a cancer diagnosis can have a huge impact on families, Laboucan said.

“They feel so grateful for the support and that they’re not alone,” she said.