More than 15,000 masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) are on their way to remote Indigenous communities in Nunavik, northern Quebec, all thanks to the effort of a woman in Erin Township in Wellington County.
Tauni Sheldon took to Facebook earlier this month asking people to donate masks and PPE to send to her hometown of Inukjuak, a small fly-in community of 2,000 people located in the Nunavik area.
Her original goal was to collect 2,000 masks for her community, but instead she received roughly 15,000 donations, enough to share with neighbouring Indigenous communities, she said.
“I didn’t think it would be that much and I’m very thankful,” she said. “People just kept contacting me.”
She said fabric and several sewing machines have also been shipped with the masks.
Communities in need
Sheldon is adopted and lives in Ontario, but her birth family still lives in Inukjuak and is in regular contact with them. She said northern communities constantly struggle with food insecurity and items like masks and PPE, which can be expensive.
“A mask can go for $10 a piece,” she said. “For us in the south we don’t think too much of that, but in communities where families are spending $500 to $800 a week on food, it can get costly.”
Sheldon hopes her donations will help offset some of the cost of PPE for families, especially over the holidays.
“I hope that everyone in the community gets a mask and families don’t have to share masks anymore,” she said.
Shipment to 11 Nunavik communities
Sheldon said she contacted the mayors of 14 communities that make up the Nunavik area to see if they would be in need of masks.
“I heard back from 11, so the shipment has gone out to 11 Nunavik communities,” she said.
“They are very, very thankful that they are being thought of up north,” she added.
The shipment has left Ontario and reached Montreal, Sheldon said. Part of the donations she received also helped cover the cost of the shipment.
Sheldon said she’s not sure when the masks will arrive in Nunavik, but hopes that it will be in the next few days.