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Donations to help Kugaaruk after school fire face transportation bottleneck

"Are we going to get food supplies to the store once a week on the plane, or are we going to swamp the plane with donations?" worries the principal of Kugaardjuq School.

Principal worries donated goods will swamp limited cargo space on flights into community

School supplies in Winnipeg packed for transport to Kugaaruk, Nunavut. These supplies were flown in on a Government of Nunavut charter flight. Other donations will be shipped on scheduled flights, which could backlog cargo from getting into the fly-in community. (Credit: Duane Wilson)
  • UPDATE: This story has been updated with information on how to donate money to Kugaaruk. Scroll down for details. 

Donations and offers to help teachers and students get back to class are pouring into Kugaaruk, Nunavut, after it lost its only school to a fire last week.

But there is concern that the generosity of Canadians could lead to a bottleneck of good will.

Kugaaruk is a fly-in community at the end of a long transportation line, making it difficult to bring goods into the hamlet of about 950 people.

Flights leave Yellowknife a couple of times a week and can stop first in Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, and Taloyoak before arriving in Kugaaruk.

"We had to slow down with charity and donations because transportation means are not prepared for this kind of disaster and this magnitude of charity," said Jerry Maciuk, principal of Kugaardjuq School.

'We had to slow down with charity and donations because transportation means are not prepared for this kind of disaster and this magnitude of charity,' says Jerry Maciuk, principal of Kugaardjuq School. (CBC)

"I was astounded by the immediate reaction from Canada. This is our Canadian spirit."

Maciuk is worried that donations could disrupt the transport of food and other essential supplies from getting into the community.

He is also concerned that the limited ability to move cargo could lead to donations being left in warehouses in Yellowknife for weeks.

"Are we going to get food supplies to the store once a week on the plane, or are we going to swamp the plane with donations?" Maciuk said.

"We have to take into consideration how can we get all this charity and donation to our place without wasting it."

However, Maciuk said if donors choose to send money instead of goods, every penny donated will be accounted for. Chartered accountants in Yellowknife are handling all financial donations.

"I want to express my deep gratitude and appreciation for even the intention of these charities and donations," Maciuk said.

"We and other people involved in the accident received so much support."

Contact information

In a news release Wednesday afternoon, the Nunavut government noted that it's responsible for the rebuild and costs associated with replacement of resources and supplies. 

But it also offered a name for anyone interested in donating money to help staff or students affected. The government asked people to send donations to the Kugaaruk District Education Authority through Michael MacIntyre rather than supporting private fundraising efforts.

"Unfortunately, in-kind donations cannot be accepted due to lack of storage space," the release said.

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