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It's the bear necessities

Yellowknifer gives bears to Lutsel K'e

NNSL Photo

Janet Naskathey and her son Byron have plenty of teddy bears to give away for Christmas. Naskathey has collected 115 toys since last May. - Mike W. Bryant/NNSL photo

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 07/01) - There's going to be a whole heck of a lot of bears in Lutsel K'e this Christmas -- teddy bears, that is.

Local resident Janet Naskathey says she has always enjoyed the cuddly little toys, but only began collecting then en masse last May.

So far, she has gathered 115 bears. Most of them she found at garage sales, while a few others she retrieved from the Yellowknife Women's Centre, flea markets, and the Salvation Army.

"I started a collection for myself, and then it grew into an idea for children in isolated communities to have something special," says Naskathey.

Instead of keeping the bears, Naskathey thought she would feel even better if she slipped on Santa Claus' shoes for a day, and donate the bears to one of the NWT's outlying communities.

This year, the bears are going to Lutsel K'e. Naskathey says she hopes the bear give-away will become a yearly event, with a different community chosen every Christmas. "Hopefully by next week the bears will be good and ready in their new homes," says Naskathey.

Besides the bears, a few local businesses decided to augment Naskathey's bear give-away with a few Christmas presents of their own. Wal-Mart and Extra Foods donated candy, teas and calenders

And of course, several local residents were more than happy to offer her some hand-me-down teddies.

"There was some mending to do, and a lot of washing," says Naskathey.

Naskathey intends to send 20 coffee mugs to Lutsel K'e's elders as well, along with the tea and calenders.

With every nook and cranny in her bedroom filled to the brim with dozens of teddies, their exit will not go unnoticed.

"It's kind of sad though," says Naskathey.

"It's a childhood feeling, the joy of having these bears."

But her simple act is just a part of one Yellowknifer's Christmas spirit.

"Merry Christmas to everyone and thank you to the Yellowknifers who didn't know, but were actually contributing gifts to the children by donating their bears," beams Naskathey.