Like the saying goes, ask and you shall receive. Last August, a tweet asking for school supplies for students in Iqaluit proved so successful, Inuk singer-songwriter Becky Han was asked by people she knows to send out a tweet to see if she could get the same response. “And they were asking, ‘do you have a school or community in mind that could use this or this or this?’ And I looked and I thought, well, why not contact my hometown school where I grew up in Arctic Bay?” Becky said.
She reached out to her hometown school, Inuujaq School, in Arctic Bay. The response from the school was that they didn’t need supplies, but many of their students had a different need. “You know, as we know, it’s the North,” said principal Gregg Durrant. “It’s pretty cold, and some kids don’t have the proper gear. We have kids among us who really didn’t have enough. Sometimes they would come in and we as staff would think, you know, that this kid really needs a new pair of boots or they need a proper parka.”
So Han posted this tweet:
She was not expecting much of a response, but what she got was a shock. That Tweet turned into a donation of more than 300 brand new parkas from Canada Goose, including Baffin boots, socks, hats and mitts, all thanks to a donation from Canadian actor, Ryan Reynolds.
“So he reached out and said, ‘I saw the tweets and how can I help?'” Becky said. When Han saw Reynold’s message she thought it must’ve come from some fake page and was surprised to learn it was really him. “And I was just touched. I was grateful that, you know, people are listening and he wanted to help out and that. And that he has concern over Inuit in Nunavut,” she said.
Han believes it was a retweet of her post that caught his attention. As he has for many other charitable causes across Canada the actor reached out and asked how he could help. She put him in touch with the Principal of the school and found out what their needs were in terms of parkas, snow pants, gloves, hats, and boots.
Then reached out to some contacts he had at Canada Goose, and in less than a week hundreds of pieces of apparel were on the way. It took longer for the items to reach their destination in the isolated north than it did for the Tweet to turn into action.
Arctic Bay sits on the Borden Peninsula on Baffin Island where last winter, the coldest temperature recorded was -38.8C, on February 9th.
Once it all did arrive the school went about outfitting all the children in need with the available items all while following COVID protocols.
Durrant jokingly said his job title changed when they distributed new winter gear to 329 students. “So what we had to do was to take the stuff down into the school gym, because that’s the largest space, single most space we have in the school to handle the volume of stuff that we got. So we basically just lined them out by sizes,” he said.
Durrant says the kids were over the moon, super excited and super grateful, about their new parkas. “When the students were leaving the gym, because they put on their parkas trying to make sure that whatever gear they were getting were suitable for them in terms of size, they were like, ‘Thank you Gregg! Thank you Gregg!’ I’m like, ‘yes, it’s thank you, Ryan! Thank you, Ryan!'”
It was never disclosed what kind of financial donation Ryan Reynolds made to make this happen; but the company has expanded their Resource Centre Program and will now be working with Inuit Tapariit Kanatami to identify communities within Inuit Nunangat who have the biggest need for repurposed parkas. This is your Good News Story of the Day and you can read it in full here.
Durrant says he’s relieved to see students ready for another winter. “That’s one less thing for me to worry about with regards to being the principal and, you know, supervising these kids. I am very happy that they have comfortable and suitable gear for the climate that they’re living in.”