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Islamic Centre of Yellowknife volunteers are dropping off care packages of warm clothes for residents in need during the public health crisis.

The volunteers are distributing the packages directly via online requests and through the Yellowknife Women’s Society, while also benefitting from the support of Islamic Relief Canada’s Share the Warmth program, Nazim Awan, chair of Islamic Centre of Yellowknife, said.

The city is well-prepared to take care of neighbours struggling during the pandemic, or to organize community support, according to Awan.

Islamic Centre of Yellowknife volunteers pile care packages into vehicles this month.
Photo Courtesy of Islamic Centre of Yellowknife

“This is a city of very generous people, all of helping,” he said. “It’s always better to work together.”

He estimates that the Share the Warmth program has distributed close to 150 packages, with about 250 to go. Awan said all the packages were prepared with social distancing in mind, and should be ready for residents in need of help.

Those requiring a helping hand can be dealing with a host of issues as economic challenges are exacerbated by fallout from the pandemic.

Awan remembers one drop-off request from staff at Stanton Territorial Hospital, for a patient who was self-isolating and had few clothes.

Volunteers left a package of warm sweaters and long johns.

“He was really appreciative that we did that,” Awan said. “It is very satisfying that we are really helping people that really need it.”

That can be a lesson for others. He said community members may need help, but are shy to ask. Awan encouraged residents to check in with their neighbours and contribute support.

It’s important to protect a community members’ privacy, while still sharing information and coordinating with other residents, said Awan.

“Whenever you help one person, you never mention their name,” he said, “but when you work with a community (effort), mention that initiative.”

The Islamic Centre of Yellowknife’s planned construction of a new mosque, slated for this year, may be affected by the ongoing crisis. Awan said he plans to reassess the situation in coming weeks.

That said, it won’t hinder efforts to aid the community.

“Nobody sleeps hungry — that’s the most important thing for me personally and also from a community perspective,” Awan said.

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Nick Pearce is a writer and reporter in Yellowknife, looking for unique stories on the environment and people that make up the North. He's a graduate of Queen's University, where he studied Global Development...

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