Arviat’s hamlet council has announced the creation of the Nalauttaq Fund, which will replace the current bingo slot system, said Mayor Bob Leonard in Arviat this past week.
The fund is being created so that hamlet council can provide grant funding to support various community-based volunteer groups.
Hamlet council will, through an application process, award grant funding four times per year to successful applicants.
Leonard said moving forward, bingo will be held twice a week in Arviat – run by the hamlet – and a hamlet-run lottery (Chase the Ace) will start in late January or early February.
He said all funds raised by the bingo games and Chase-The-Ace lotteries will go into the Nalauttaq Fund.
“Every year, of course, there are way more applications submitted than there are bingos to be had,” said Leonard.
“So decisions have to be made on whether one application has the potential to benefit the community more than those submitted by other groups.
“And, at the same time, council never really sees any reporting on what the funds actually wind-up being used for at the end of it all.”
Leonard said, this year, the committee decided to try something new and moved forward with the Nalauttaq Fund, which requires new reporting procedures at the end of a group’s event, or prior to the next round of funding being considered.
He said the jackpot at an average Arviat bingo used to be $2,000 to $3,000.
“There’s not as much money in this town as there is, say, in Rankin Inlet or someplace like that.
“But, as the number of applications for a bingo slot used to show, the money generated by bingo played a significant role in a number of areas and was often a benefit to the community overall.”
Leonard said the issue of a lack of dependable reporting procedures to ensure the bingo money was ultimately going where it was supposed to had come up the past couple of years with the committee.
He said he’s happy the decision was finally made this year to go ahead and give the Nalauttaq Fund a try.
“I think word went out to the groups that typically receive a bingo slot that we were going in a new direction this past November, or so, but the public announcements on Facebook and that just went out recently.
“An important part of this plan is that we will be asking for more reporting on where the money actually went, and people applying for a fixed amount of money are going to have to explain to the committee members what they plan to use the money for and then follow-up with a report after their event, or whatever it is, to show here’s where the money actually went before they apply for funding again.
“There’s some smaller projects or groups that couldn’t get a bingo in the past because a local bingo night in Arviat might raise $8,000 to $10,000 – and maybe they only needed something in the neighbourhood of $2,000 or $3,000 – so that was actually too much money for them and they would never get a bingo.
“So, this way, those groups can still apply to the Aquanaut Fund for the funding that they do need, so it actually opens it up to a lot more groups.”
Mayor Leonard said at this point in time, he doesn’t believe a ceiling has been set in regards to the amount asked of the Aquanaut Fund by a community group.
He said there are groups such as the food bank, day care, and the radio society that typically hold a bingo every month or something like that, so they’re dealing with fairly large amounts of money throughout the year.
“Six of the eight hamlet councilors have participated in the work of the committee so far and, I would imagine, that number will stay the same or it may, in fact, expand through an actual special meeting of the hamlet council.
“In actuality, the committee is just a sub-committee of hamlet council put together to deal with bingo.
“Speaking for myself, I’m eager to try it and see how it’s going to work. It’s a bit of an experiment but it has real potential, so I’m eager to give it a go.
“We probably still haven’t thought about all the issues that are going to come up, but we’ll develop it as it goes along and, if it looks like we’re going to stick with it, then we’ll fine-tune it along the way.”