Margaret Miller's 22 years of volunteering in Inuvik recognized with award

Margaret Miller is 80 and has volunteered for at least five organizations since she moved to Inuvik 22 years ago.

80 year old has volunteered for at least five organizations since she moved to Inuvik 22 years ago

Margaret Miller was awarded Inuvik's Bill Mero Memorial Volunteer Award for her decades of community dedication. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Margaret Miller has been awarded Inuvik's second annual Bill Mero Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award.

"Margaret has been there for those who love art, for those who are hungry, for animals and even for Santa when he needs a little extra help. She embodies the spirit of a volunteer and of our community," said Inuvik Mayor Natasha Kulikowski, as she read an excerpt from the nomination letter submitted for Miller.

Miller, who is in her 80's, has volunteered for about five different organizations in the 22 years she's lived in town, including the Inuvik Food Bank, Arctic Paws and the Great Northern Arts Festival.

"I came for five years and decided to stay forever," Miller said.

The award's namesake, Bill Mero, was a longtime volunteer in Inuvik. He volunteered at events such as the Great Northern Arts Festival when he would come up with his wife, and when they would visit his daughter, town councillor Alana Mero.

The award started shortly after Mero died last year. 

Miller said she knew Bill, and that made receiving the award even more special.

"He was a very good and fine gentleman," Miller said.  "He was a great asset to this community even though he lived down south."

Miller said she continues to meet up with Mero's wife each summer for afternoon tea, "and he won't be forgotten."

The food bank in particular has needed more volunteers than normal because restrictions around COVID-19 mean clients are no longer allowed to pick up the food at the building. 

Instead, they get volunteers to help deliver the weekly bags of food to houses for contactless pick-up.

Margaret Miller in 2017 at the Inuvik food bank. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

"Inuvik is great for volunteering," Miller said. 

Miller said she's been volunteering at Arctic Paws, which helps bring a vet up to the community to spay and neuter pets, since its earliest days.

"There wasn't much going on for looking after stray dogs," she said. 

"We had a great loose dog population here 20 some odd years ago, and we rounded them up and fixed them — and the alleviated the dog problem." 

Miller jokes that she can't say no when it comes to volunteering, although she's cut down from volunteering with five organizations to three.

Miller has advice for those who are thinking of helping out some community organizations.

"Get in and get your hands dirty. Volunteers are great ... volunteering is great and there's so many organizations in town and they all depend on volunteers," she said.

"They can't exist without volunteers."