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Happy Valley-Goose Bay community freezer renamed as tribute to founder

Gary Mitchell, chair of the NunaKatiget Inuit Community Corporation checks out the stock of char in one of the deep freezes of the Max Winters Memorial Community Freezer in Happy-Valley Goose Bay.
Gary Mitchell, chair of the NunaKatiget Inuit Community Corporation checks out the stock of char in one of the deep freezes of the Max Winters Memorial Community Freezer in Happy-Valley Goose Bay.

The NunaKatiget Inuit Community Corporation has renamed its community freezer to honour the program’s founder and long-time community leader Max Winters. The corporation held a ceremony during its annual general meeting earlier this month dubbing the program the Max Winters Memorial Community Freezer.
“We’re so proud,” said Leanne Hill, Winters’ youngest daughter. “He would have been very proud. The community freezer took a special place in his heart. It was a dream he had.”
Hill described her father as both selfless and humble. 
“He did so much for other people, but not for recognition, just to help,” she said.
After Winters died in 2015 at the age of 76, Hill said numerous people came forward and told the family stories of how Winters had helped them. One man, who needed to know how to drive a standard to get a job could not get the hang of it until Winters stepped in and taught him.
“He was so patient,” Hill noted. “Even my mom had no idea.” 
Winters was perhaps best known for his long-term involvement in the Labrador Winter games and youth sports for which he was awarded the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2007. He is also a member of the provincial softball hall of fame (1985) and was inducted into the volunteer hall of fame in 2012, among many other awards and accolades over the years.
He was also an instrumental figure in the 2005 land claim settlement that established Nunatsiavut and one of the first members of the Nunatsiavut Assembly when elections were held in 2006. He was chosen by acclamation. 
“Max was a real community man,” said Gary Mitchell, NunaKatiget chair and long-time friend of Winters. “He always wanted to make a contribution to the community, for the people that he served. He wanted to make the corporation work for the people here, to give back to the people.”
Ten years ago, Winters, who was chair of the corporation at the time, saw a need and the freezer program was born. It primarily serves seniors and disabled persons providing access to traditional food during the winter months for those who are no longer able to get out on the land to fish, hunt and forage.
Eight deep-freezes are stocked with seasonal offerings such as locally-harvested moose, seal, berries, char and partridge, as well as, locally-grown vegetables. NunaKatiget purchases much of the food from hunters, fishers, foragers and farmers, but also receives donations.
“We do not have a large budget, but we are able to do this,” Mitchell said.
The success of the program—which now serves approximately 90 to 100 families in Happy Valley-Goose Bay—has allowed it to expand to the north coast Nunatsiavut communities of Hopedale, Postville, Rigolet, Makkovik and Nain.
The community freezer is open November 1 to June 10 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, at the Nunatsiavut offices on Corte Real Road. Permanent residents 60 years of age or older or with disabilities, who are permanent residents of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Nunatsiavut beneficiaries are eligible for a monthly pick up of food.
 

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