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New food bank opens in Aklavik, N.W.T.

The sun sets in Aklavik, N.W.T., in 2020. The Aklavik Indian Band has opened a food bank in the community of just over 500 people.  (Kate Kyle/CBC - image credit)
The sun sets in Aklavik, N.W.T., in 2020. The Aklavik Indian Band has opened a food bank in the community of just over 500 people. (Kate Kyle/CBC - image credit)

A new food bank has opened in Aklavik, N.W.T. — a first for the community.

The facility opened its doors in February. Each month it will hand out food hampers to households. So far it's had only one distribution day.

Since the food bank opened its doors, 91 households in the community of just over 500 people have signed up for the free service. According to StatsCan data the community had 215 households in 2021.

Frederick Arey is with the community wellness department with the Aklavik Indian Band which operates the facility. He said the idea for opening the food bank came from a community meeting last September.

"We asked the community what they wanted and they said a food bank," said Arey.

"This is definitely a great service for our community members, with the high cost of living and high unemployment rate we are experiencing here in Aklavik. So it will be beneficial for everyone."

Even with those who have signed up already, Arey knows there are many more households that could use the service.

"We still want to hit more people, we want to especially target elders who are on pensions. We want all elders to be a priority for the food bank in Aklavik," said Arey.

Frederick Arey manages the food bank in Aklavik, N.W.T.
Frederick Arey manages the food bank in Aklavik, N.W.T.

'This is definitely a great service for our community members, with the high cost of living and high unemployment rate we are experiencing here in Aklavik,' said Frederick Arey, who manages the facility. (CBC)

Arey said his team hand-delivers the hampers to elders' doors instead of asking them to come out to the centre.

Tom Ng, the senior administrative officer for the hamlet of Aklavik, said the municipality fully supports the initiative and wishes them all the best in its first year.

"I think it's a great idea, we could definitely use the service in town," said Ng.

"From what he [Arey] has told me, it's a wonderful idea."

Arey says the bank is open to any residents of the community. People who want to sign up for the monthly hampers can call the Aklavik Indian Band and Arey will help them through the registration process.

The food bank is funded by a grant from Food Banks Canada. The Aklavik Indian Band hired Arey last year and applied for the funding.

Arey says they're always looking for donations to keep the facility stocked.