‘It could have been us’: Hay River sisterhood opens snack stand for evacuees

Hay River youth come together to raise money for flood victims (Pictured left to right, Emmanuelle Dewar, Nola Babiuk, Mila Gour, Akira Baxter, Avianna Babiuk) (Photo courtesy of Paula Gour)

Another year, another flooding season dawned on many NWT residents – this time the town of Hay River has seen the worst of it.

But for three little girls, erecting a snack stand to help support the residents displaced by the flooding seemed like the obvious thing to do.

One morning, in the wake of the flood, Avianna Babiuk, her sister Nola, and neighbour Mila Gour got together and decided to make chocolate-covered marshmallows and iced tea, among other things, to raise funds for the residents affected.

“We wanted to help people,” says ten-year-old Avianna, “It could have been us.”

They call themselves the “Delancey sisters” and they’re situated 10 minutes out of the downtown in a residency called Delancey estates.

“They saw that everybody here was safe, and we were housing a lot of people, so they wanted to be able to help and whoever was an evacuee didn’t have to pay that day,” says Jacky Kruger, Avianna and Nola’s mom.

Beyond this initiative, Kruger says she’s been taking her children into the more affected areas of town to help with clean up and recovery.

Mila’s mother Gour and Kruger are long-time residents and best friends; and took this opportunity to teach their daughters some philanthropy and the importance of uniting during hard times.

“They even do people’s laundry,” says Gour, “I just want them to be aware.”

Kruger has lived in Hay River for 15 years and has had to evacuate during every single one of them, she says.

“It’s really hard on families to have to leave their home,” she says, “we got to remind ourselves to be kind, kindness is the most important thing in the situation.”

The effects of flooding have further highlighted the dire need for housing in the community.

“It’s the housing crisis. It’s the people that have nowhere to go back to, and there’s just nowhere that the town at this point can offer them,” says Gour.

In three days, the girls raised close to $200, with a few neighbourhood kids joining in on the fun.

The donation will be shared and matched by United Way to put towards the relief effort.

“We’re gonna get through this together. And just with the love and support that we have as a community, Hay River always pulls through.”

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. Mariah is excited to begin her journey and career in Yellowknife, NWT, and get involved with the community. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at mariah.caruso@cklbradio.com