Young western Nunavut grad starts backpack drive for returning students

Tasha Tologanak of Cambridge Bay worked to fill 26 backpacks for community students

Students at Kiilinik High School and Kullik Ilihakvik Elementary School in Cambridge Bay are now back in school. On their first day back, some received backpacks with school supplies, a project organized by a former student, Tasha Tologanak, who wants to encourage students to stay in school. (File photo)

By Jane George

As students headed back to school in Cambridge Bay today, some received a treat on their first day of school: a new backpack filled with supplies.

Here are the 26 backpacks linked up and ready to go to selected students in Cambridge Bay. (Photo courtesy of Tasha Tologanak)

Filling 26 new backpacks was the idea of Tasha Tologanak, who said she has always enjoyed volunteering in her western Nunavut community of about 1,800.

“School was coming up and supplies are expensive so I had the idea of doing whatever I could out of my own pocket,” she said.

The young mother of a three-month-old baby decided to organize the effort, backed with her own money and time, along with donations received from others who learned about her project and contributed.

Tologanak also offered a free birthday cake draw to donors.

Tologanak said she wanted to give back to her community after being away for nearly three years at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, from which she recently graduated in culinary arts.

On first seeing the backpacks, which she and others filled, Tologanak said she was overcome with emotion.

“I was a drop-out student in Grade 10 and I quit school,” she said. “And it was hard for me to go back to school but I struggled and I went back. I graduated and went to post-secondary and I graduated. So I know what it’s like to struggle in school.”

Tologanak said she hopes these supplies will motivate students to go to school and stay in school.

Sixteen elementary school students received a backpack, pencil case, cartoon-themed erasers and notebooks.

Ten high school students received pencils, pens, a notebook, calculator and supplies for geometry.

The school principals were to select those students they feel could use the backpacks.

While the students are sure to be pleased with their unexpected backpacks, Tologanak said that a teacher told her it was also welcome, as the sealift order for pencils has not yet arrived.

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(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by Madeleine on

    This story was so heartwarming and inspiring. Way to go Tasha, I think it’s so awesome that you undertook this initiative and fundraised all on your own. You did Nunavut and Cambridge Bay proud!

  2. Posted by Vicki Aitaok on

    You are an inspiration Tasha!

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