North

Strangers donate prom dresses, accessories and makeup to adorn Whati grads

In Whati, N.W.T., a community of about 470 people more than 160 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife, acquiring a dress for the highly-anticipated prom night can be a challenge.

Living in a remote community, 'you can't really dress up girly,' says Samantha Migwi

A group of girls from Mezi Community School in Whati, N.W.T., arrived at prom resplendent in gem tones, sequins and gauze, thanks to the kindness of strangers across the territory. (Submitted by Samantha Migwi)

There are few occasions in life that call for a shimmery, floor-length gown.

Prom is one of them.

But in Whati, N.W.T., a community of about 470 people more than 160 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife, acquiring a dress for that highly-anticipated event can be a challenge.

Living in a remote community, "you can't really dress up girly," said community member Samantha Migwi. Formal wear is hard to come by.

This year, however, a group of girls from Mezi Community School arrived at prom Thursday resplendent in gem tones, sequins and gauze, thanks to the clever thinking of Migwi and Diane Beaverho.

"The girls reached out to us asking if we had any prom dresses, personally, at home, and we were like, 'maybe not, maybe one,'" said Migwi.

Samantha Migwi, left, and Diane Beaverho, right, helped a group of girls find prom dresses by posting on social media. (Emily Blake/CBC)

"We said: 'OK, we'll help try to find dresses for you girls.' So Diane posted on social media and got an overwhelming turnout."

Donations poured in from Yellowknife, Fort Smith and Fort Resolution; the Yellowknife Sutherland's Drugs sent accessories and Shoppers Drug Mart came through with makeup.

Yellowknife-based airline Air Tindi volunteered to ship the goods up to Whati for free.

"I didn't expect that to happen," said Beaverho, adding the girls were "super excited" to wear their dresses.

Migwi and Beaverho said they planned to help the girls do their hair and makeup before their big night Thursday. (Emily Blake/CBC)

Trove of vibrant dresses

In a hotel room the day before prom, Migwi opened the lid of a large plastic bin to reveal a trove of brightly coloured fabrics stitched with rhinestones.

There was a robin's egg blue floor-length dress that cinches at the waist, a gold gown with a sparkly bodice, a deep purple tube dress with a sheer shawl to match, and much more.

"These dresses are amazing. They're beautiful," Migwi said.

On Wednesday, three Mezi Community School students, Carmen Flunkie, Jaywha Nitsiza and Floyd Bishop received their high school diplomas. (Emily Blake/CBC)

The gowns are also bringing joy to the parents.

One mother told the women she wouldn't have been able to afford a prom dress for her daughter.

"So now she's really excited and can't wait for the pictures to be uploaded," said Beaverho.

Migwi and Beaverho said they planned to help the girls do their hair and makeup before their big night.

This week marked a milestone for other young people in the community, as well.

On Wednesday, three Mezi Community School students, Carmen Flunkie, Jaywha Nitsiza and Floyd Bishop received their high school diplomas.

"It's pretty exciting. It's not all the time where people are graduating [in Whati]," said Migwi.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Whati graduate Carmen Flunkie as Samantha Flunkie.
    Jun 08, 2019 2:19 PM CT

Written by Sidney Cohen, based on an interview by Emily Blake and Lawrence Nayally

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