How a tweet led Ryan Reynolds to donate parkas to this Nunavut community

·4 min read

Like the saying goes, ask and you shall receive.

This past August, a tweet from Iqaluit Deputy Mayor Janet Brewster asking for school supplies for students in the Nunavut capital 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?"

Han, who now lives in Saskatchewan, did just that. She asked Inuujaq School if they needed more school supplies and she was told that they have enough. But what they really needed was something else.

Government of Nunavut
Government of Nunavut

"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:

"I tweeted that, not really thinking or expecting much from it. And then it turned into something," she said.

That something turned into a donation of more than 300 brand new parkas from Canada Goose, as well as Baffin boots, socks, hats and mitts, all thanks to a donation from Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds.

Han says she thinks he saw the tweet from someone else who retweeted it.

"So he reached out and said, 'I saw the tweets and how can I help?'" she 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 he has concern over Inuit in Nunavut," she said.

Then Han connected Reynolds with Durrant.

"Oh, yes, that was quite interesting. You know, I got an email saying, 'This is Ryan Reynolds and what your needs are in terms of winter gear.' And yeah, we started emailing back and forth and yeah, that was that," said Durrant.

Supplied
Supplied

From there, Reynolds called up his friends at Canada Goose.

"When Ryan Reynolds reached out to us about what he was hearing about Arctic Bay, we acted quickly with him and his generosity," said Gavin Thompson, the vice-president of corporate citizenship at Canada Goose.

Thompson didn't disclose the financial contribution from Reynolds.

"Ryan's been a friend of our brand now for over 10 years and we stay in touch with him."

In less than a week, Canada Goose mobilized hundreds of parkas, snow pants, boots, hats and mitts.

Sheena Qaunnaq
Sheena Qaunnaq

But it took longer than that for everything to get to the hamlet of less than 1,000 people. Arctic Bay sits on the Borden Peninsula on Baffin Island where last winter, the coldest temperature recorded was -38.8 C, on Feb. 9.

The boots arrived first, then the parkas and wind pants. And when they did, 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.

Geela Arnauyumayuq
Geela Arnauyumayuq

Following public health guidelines because of the pandemic, students came in by grades to get fitted for new winter wear.

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."

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!'"

But it's not just kids in Arctic Bay who will be benefiting from Canada Goose partnerships. The brand also announced it's expanding its Resource Centre Program and will be working with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami to identify communities within Inuit Nunangat who have the biggest need for repurposed parkas.