Ontario woman sending thousands of masks home to Nunavik
“Everyone deserves the same protection from COVID-19, no matter where they are”
The main floor of Tauni Sheldon’s home has transformed in recent weeks from a living space to a storage warehouse.
But Sheldon doesn’t mind; she sees the growing numbers of boxes and bags as a sign of her community’s generosity.
Sheldon was born to an Inuk mother from Inukjuak but grew up in southern Ontario, where she lives now. She’s well connected to her birth family in Inukjuak, and decided that for Christmas this year, she wanted to do something for her home community in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was hearing from family and friends in Inukjuak, and masks there cost anywhere from $1 to $10 each,” Sheldon said.
“I hear about some cases where some families were buying one mask for the whole household,” she said.
So, she put out a message on Facebook.
By mid-December, she’d amassed over 14,000 disposable masks and 2,000 sewn masks from friends and community organizations in the Guelph and London areas.
The donations didn’t stop there. People have also sent hospital gowns, face shields, sewing machines, fabric, feminine products and diapers.
“It just took off like wildfire,” said Sheldon.
While she originally planned to send all the items to Inukjuak, there are now enough donations to send to each of Nunavik’s 14 communities.
Sheldon has reached out to mayors across the region to confirm their population counts.
Now, with the help of her husband and son, she’s sorting through the donations and packaging them accordingly.
“It’s like this big giant pile,” she said. “It’s boxes and bags everywhere.”
A friend plans to use their transport business to help ship the items to Montreal later this week. Sheldon has collected $800 in cash donations that she hopes she can put toward shipping the everything via Air Inuit.
“I’m just very thankful,” Sheldon said. “It started off with one Facebook post, and people have been so kind.
“Everyone deserves the same protection from COVID-19, no matter where they are.”