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Walking to beat cancer
Six women to trek Coronation Gulf in hopes of raising $70,000 for research and treatment

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Friday, December 16, 2011

Hoping to promote healthy lifestyle choices while raising money for cancer research and treatment, six women plan to walk across the Coronation Gulf next spring.

NNSL photo/graphic

Jeannie Ehaloak, a Cambridge Bay resident, will join her sister, Commissioner Edna Elias and four other women in a walk across the Coronation Gulf in May 2012 to raise money for cancer research and treatment. - photo courtesy of Jeannie Ehaloak

Leaving Umingmaktuuq in Bathurst Inlet in May, their destination will be Cambridge Bay, nearly 250 km away. The women, including Commissioner Edna Elias, plan to raise $70,000 during their approximately one-week journey. Elias said the idea for the project started seven years ago, when she embarked on a weight loss campaign. She has since lost close to 41 kg (90 pounds).

"What motivated me even more to lose the weight and start helping to raise funds for cancer research is the death of a younger sister to breast cancer," she said. "As more and more people in my family, immediate family or extended family, dying of cancer, I thought I've got to do more."

Elias mentioned the project to her sister in Cambridge Bay, Jeannie Ehaloak, who decided to get involved, then Donna Olsen-Hakongak also got involved, as did Elisabeth Hadlari. Ehaloak spoke to fellow resident Crystal Qaumariaq and Calgarian Jamie McInnis and both got involved. The women plan to walk 40-48 km daily to reach Cambridge Bay during Umingmak Frolics.

The money raised will be donated to the Alberta Cancer Foundation to support the Edmonton Cross Cancer Institute and breast cancer research. Elias explained many cancer patients in the Kitikmeot go to Edmonton for treatment, hence the choice of the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

"The secondary thing, beside raising funds for cancer research and treatment, we also want to promote healthy living, healthy lifestyle choices, to promote good health overall ? mentally, spiritually, physically ? to avoid, say, cancer," said Elias.

Ehaloak, who is "very excited" about the project, has started preparing for the journey, taking long walks during weekends.

"I got involved because I've lost so many family members and friends to cancer," she said. "I really think it's important we try and raise funds to find a cure for cancer, make people aware it's out there. I just believe they will find a cure and hopefully I can be a part of it, knowing I did something."

Elias said if the event is successful, they might consider doing it again, perhaps in another region.

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