Lottery licence? Food permit? No problem. Inuvik mom won't give up fundraising to finish university

A single mom from Inuvik, N.W.T. is going to extraordinary lengths to finish her university degree in environmental science.

Bylaws hinder Inuvik mom from raising extra funds to finish school, but she just won’t stop

Kendra Tingmiak ran into bylaw issues while trying to run a 50-50 raffle to raise money for her education. When she opted for a bake sale, the health inspector got involved. (Submitted by Kendra Tingmiak)

A single mom from Inuvik, N.W.T. is going to extraordinary measures — manoeuvring around government bylaws — to raise extra money to finish her last year of university.

Kendra Tingmiak has just three semesters left of her environmental sciences degree at the University of Lethbridge.

She was able to get partial funding from the territorial government and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation — but is having a hard time coming up with the last thousand dollars to cover part of her living and travel costs for the upcoming semester.

"Right now I'm just worried about what's in front of us now," Tingmiak said.

She paid for her previous years of school with money she saved after years of working.

Creative plan thwarted by lottery licence

Instead of turning to popular GoFundMe pages, Tingmiak got creative.

She set up a 50-50 raffle for her community earlier this week.

"And then I got reported for illegal gambling."

If I have to roll up a bunch of sushi and get no sleep, then so be it.- Kendra Tingmiak

Someone reported Tingmiak to the territorial government.

People require a lottery licence to run raffles, bingos, and other gambling activities.

So Tingmiak applied for one.

But the town's senior administrative officer denied her request.

"I feel sorry for her and wish I could do more, but I have to follow what the regulations say," said Grant Hood, the SAO of Inuvik.

Hood said gambling activities must not be "for personal gains" and be "beneficial to the community as a whole" according to the community's bylaws. 

Hood said this bylaw is in place to protect the consumer, and it wasn't his first time denying a community member asking for a license to run a fundraiser.

Then the food permit…

Then Tingmiak changed gears: a bake sale with some sushi on the side.

She ran the idea by the town's officials, who then told her she needed a temporary food establishment permit — typically required for opening up restaurants.  

"It's insane, the loopholes that I'm having to jump through," Tingmiak said.

But she applied for one anyway.

'I'm trying to show [my son] that education is important,' said Tingmiak. (Submitted by Kendra Tingmiak)

While waiting for the permit, she spoke with CBC News Friday.

"All I'm trying to do is just be a good mom," said Tingmiak who has a teenage son.

"I'm trying to show [my son] that education is important, and I'm pursuing my degree so that he has motivation in his future to pursue his."

Tingmiak said she wants to come back to work in Inuvik with her degree, and use it to "benefit the whole community."

"I am very, very passionate about my Inuvialuit culture and heritage and our land."

Tingmiak got approved for her food permit Friday afternoon.

She said she hopes her story inspires others to not give up when faced with obstacles.

"If I have to roll up a bunch of sushi and get no sleep, then so be it."


Priscilla Hwang


Priscilla Hwang is a reporter with CBC News based in Ottawa. She's worked with the investigative unit, CBC Toronto, and CBC North in Yellowknife, Whitehorse and Iqaluit. Before joining the CBC in 2016, she travelled across the Middle East and North Africa to share people's stories. She has a Master of Journalism from Carleton University and speaks Korean, Tunisian Arabic, and dabbles at classical Arabic and French. Want to contact her? Email or @prisksh on Twitter.