Group in Gjoa Haven helps families fundraise for funeral travel

A volunteer organization in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, is helping families travel to funerals in the Kitikmeot region. 

The Katiqhuiriit Committee fundraises for families who need to travel to or from Gjoa Haven to surrounding communities.  

"We want them to just be with their family members while they're grieving, so that [they] don't have to worry about having to cover airfare while they're still hurting," said Robby Qammaniq, a member of the committee.

Often in Nunavut, families will hold lotteries to raise money for funeral costs or airfare in cases like this. The committee is trying to create a pool of money that is readily available when someone suddenly needs it.

"Our goal is to be proactive," said Qammaniq. 

Even compassionate airfare prices can be pricey, he said. A one-way flight from Gjoa Haven to Baker Lake is about $1,500. 

Jason Franson/CP

He said the committee raises money through bake sales and has gone on local radio, drawing prizes that have been donated through local businesses. People become eligible for the draw when they give cash donations.

Qammaniq also created a GoFundMe page two months ago, but nobody has donated yet.

Since it started in November, the committee has helped two families travel to funerals.

Lotteries run by individuals not allowed

Those who take it on themselves raise money through a lottery, such a 50/50 draw or raffles, could face legal consequences. 

Under the Nunavut Lotteries Act only charitable organizations, non-profits and religious groups are allowed to run lotteries. 

Submitted by Robby Qammaniq

"We don't regulate [lotteries run by individuals] in any way possible or form so it is more of a buyer beware approach for the unlicensed lotteries," said Nastania Mullin, acting director for policy and consumer affairs for the Nunavut government. 

Qammaniq says the Katiqhuiriit Committee is not registered to run lotteries, but was granted a licence to hold its radio raffle.

Organizations that are eligible to run lotteries apply to the community and government services at the Nunavut government. But 12 Nunavut communities have delegation to issue their own licence. 

  • Cape Dorset 
  • Sanikiluaq
  • Coral Harbour 
  • Naujaat
  • Rankin Inlet 
  • Arviat 
  • Chesterfield Inlet 
  • Whale Cove 
  • Kugluktuk
  • Cambridge Bay 
  • Gjoa Haven 
  • Kugaaruk 

Communities who have designated authority are able to issue lottery licences to anyone they choose, including individuals.