New fund to ensure all kids can use the Iqaluit pool

The Jimmy Kilabuk Children's Recreation Fund has more than $100,000 to help low-income families get access to Iqaluit's pool.

The Jimmy Kilabuk Children's Recreation Fund was named for the former mayor and councillor

A child takes the plunge into the pool at Iqaluit's aquatic centre. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

More than $100,000 is available for low-income families to have access to Iqaluit's pool through the newly launched Jimmy Kilabuk Children's Recreation Fund.

"We really want to make sure that everybody can access the centre and that there aren't barriers to families that would like to make use of the centre," said Amy Elgersma, director of recreation for the City of Iqaluit.

The fund was named to pay tribute to former mayor and councillor, Jimmy Kilabuk.

"A lot of us councillors that were serving with him felt that it was most appropriate to name the fund after him because he was very involved in the community especially, he cared a lot about the youth," said Coun. Joanasie Akumalik.

Kilabuk's wife, Annie Nowdlak, attended the launch. She said that along with Kilabuk's involvement in the community, he was a family man. She was pleased to know Kilabuk's contributions would be recognized.

Councillor Simon Nattaq gives Annie Nowdlak a statuette to commemorate the Jimmy Kilabuk Children's Recreation Fund being named for her late husband. (Angela Hill/CBC News)

"I'm very happy with what's happening, ever since I heard about it, I've been looking forward to this," she said through a translator in Inuktitut.

Families who need the assistance will be able to apply for an annual pass either online or in person at the Aquatic Centre. Eligible families will receive funds for children under 18 to take swimming lessons as well as the family pool pass.

Fund could grow

City officials are thinking to the future of the fund and want to see it continue to grow, said Elgersma.

A recent fundraising event saw 1,000 yellow rubber ducks raced down the waterslide and through a course. The lucky duck race raised $5,000 to be split between the REACH program's fundraising campaign and the Rotary Club.

People from the community have also come forward to make donations and purchase passes for kids. Recently someone donated $2,000 and is looking for people to match it, Elgersma said.

Since the Aquatic Centre opened Jan. 26, there have been nearly 10,000 drop-ins to the pool and fitness centre.