Inuit woman flips tradition by sending care packages to the North this Christmas
Basic necessities can cost several times more in the North than they do in other parts of Canada
On Christmas Eve many children eagerly await presents from the North Pole, but one Inuit woman is putting a twist on the tradition by sending care packages up North to impoverished communities in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
Nanook Fareal was born in one such community and moved to Toronto ten years ago with her father. Five years later, her father passed away and Fareal ended up homeless for eight months and struggling with an addiction.
She says she knows what it feels like to be hungry.
"Getting food wherever I could, not knowing where I was going to sleep. It's just a really horrible feeling that no one should ever have to go through," she told the CBC's Gill Deacon in an interview on Metro Morning.
That's why this year, Fareal and her partner decided not to buy Christmas gifts for each other. Instead, they reached out to a group called Helping our Northern Neighbours to find a family with young children that could use some extra help.
'This is our country'
In Canada's northern regions, basic necessities such as fruit, vegetables and water can cost several times more what they do in other parts of the country.
When Fareal started researching food prices online, she says she saw cases of water priced at over $100 and heads of lettuce at $30 each – prices that she says leave many in Canada's North eating extremely unhealthily because they simply can't afford to eat better.
Fareal wanted to do more, so she started an online fundraising page. "I thought if we can send one, why don't we send 10?"
She wants to focus most on families with young children, and in addition to cash donations is accepting diapers, baby wipes, baby clothes and other lightweight items that can be easily shipped.
"Children go to sleep hungry because their parents can't pay these absurd prices" Fareal writes on the page. "This is OUR country, Canada, not somewhere across the world."
As friends, family and strangers learned about her initiative, donations began pouring in.
"Time to give back from when you helped me with the women's shelter," wrote donor Natasha McNulty.
"These people deserve to be happy too," wrote Thomas Kreimier.
Through the project, Fareal says she's also been able to reconnect with her roots. "For most of my life, I didn't know anything about my culture. And this past year, I've just learned so much."
As she writes on her fundraising page: "Please help me help my people."