Whoops! Kivalliq Inuit gift card program gets a makeover

Inuit in the region may now spend their COVID-19 relief money at any retailer

Inuit households in the Kivalliq region, including Rankin Inlet, shown here, are each receiving $1,500 worth of gift cards from their regional Inuit organization. They’re now allowed to use them at any retail store in the region. (File photo)

By Jim Bell

The Kivalliq Inuit Association’s $1,500-per-household COVID-19 relief program is no longer exclusive to Arctic Co-operatives Ltd., the association said late Wednesday afternoon.

At the same time, it has divided the benefit into 10 individual gift cards, worth $150 each, for each household.

These moves are part of an abrupt makeover to the program prompted by feedback from the public and talks with the Inuit business community in the region, according to a news release from the organization.

Money to pay for the gift cards comes from $8 million in federal government COVID-19 relief that flowed into the Kivalliq association’s coffers by way of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Last week, representatives with the Kivalliq association announced each household would receive a $1,500 Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. gift card.

The goal was to help people order groceries and other goods by telephone to avoid creating large gatherings inside crowded grocery stores.

But those gift cards were valid only at Arctic Co-operatives retail outlets — which appears to have provoked a backlash on social media.

Now, however, Kivalliq Inuit may spend their relief money at any retail business in the region.

That includes any Northern store, and independent businesses like the Red Top variety shop in Rankin Inlet or the Eskimo Point Lumber Supply store in Arviat, as well as retail gasoline and home heating fuel distributors in each community.

And Kivalliq Inuit can also use the cards to order goods from the south through companies like Arctic Connection Ltd. or the Arctic Buying Company.

As before, the cards may not be used to buy tobacco or alcohol products.

In a frequently-asked-questions handout posted on its Facebook page, the association said it’ll try to start distributing the cards in every Kivalliq community — except Arviat — by Friday, Dec. 18.

In Arviat, which is under a strict lockdown because of its large number of COVID-19 infections, the cards cannot be distributed until after the Kivalliq association works out a plan with Dr. Michael Patterson, the territory’s chief public health officer.

“We are working closely with the Chief Public Health Office to come up with a plan that will keep everyone safe and to avoid the large gathering of people in the community stores,” states the post.

Those discussions are still continuing. The Kivalliq association said it hopes to have a plan for Arviat “in the coming days.”

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(11) Comments:

  1. Posted by Manapik on

    KIA patronizing own beneficiaries, don’t trust the voters on how to spend money? Guaranteed most voters handle money better than the KIA directors.

  2. Posted by okay on

    Why do Inuit make these rules for Inuit? None of my business, but please please empower and trust the people to spend the $1500 as they see fit, but it can come with some suggestions and education.

  3. Posted by Complainers everywhere I look on

    It never ceases to amaze me how acts of generosity like this are so quickly taken as something negative by so many people.

    • Posted by Manapik on

      You’re just another person who knows what’s best for everyone.

      • Posted by Old Times on

        it’s not Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit to complain like you do when some one gives you a gift

    • Posted by Humility on

      Well said ! A lil humility is needed for all the generosity that has been given to us all here in these communities.

  4. Posted by Duh is there something miss at KIA on

    The residents of Arviat need the most help at this very moment and they get nothing! To KIA the birdbrain organization, perhaps they should just deliver hampers to every household in Arviat, so people will not leave their homes and spread the virus. Just a simple suggestion to an organization which appears to be missing a brain.

  5. Posted by trapper on

    If the stores do deliver hamper they will low ball everone in arviat and deliver little bit of food and make a big profit out of 1500.00 like the lumber northern and coop stores doing and the coop out data food or food that never sells only store that is fair is the arctic connected

  6. Posted by Alex Alikashuak on

    Consider yourselves lucky , those of us living South get nothing

  7. Posted by KIA Beneficiary on

    8M is a lot of money pledged to KivIA Beneficiaries living in the Kivalliq Region. What about us KIA Beneficiaries holding NTI Cards living outside of the Kivalliq Region? We are beneficiaries, but yet, we are left out. I will be lobbying this because I feel we are being seen as outsiders.

    • Posted by eskimo joe on

      fair is fair, how about dividing mr loyalties with nunavut? this is once with kia, mr is yearly so who’s getting bigger share of the pie?

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