Tamara Horsey, who started the Yukon Wine Ninjas movement, poses with a surprise bag of goodies to be dropped off at a house in Whitehorse on May 19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Ninjas in the Yukon

Yukoners deliver goodies

They’re stealthy. They’re sneaky. And they’re leaving bags of goodies on doorsteps around the Yukon.

The ninja movement has arrived in the Yukon and is now up to close to 2,000 members and countless goody bags that have been delivered throughout the territory, including a lot that was flown into Old Crow and doled out to residents there.

It was Tamara Horsey who started the Yukon movement, taking the idea from ninjas in Alberta.

As she explained in a May 19 interview, she has friends in Alberta and scrolling her Facebook feed she continued to see postings about Alberta ninjas, a group of women — more than 50,000 — who were leaving bags of goodies on one another’s doorsteps at a time of distancing and social isolation for many.

The acts of kindness — “something that could really bring some light to people” during the global pandemic — appealed to Horsey so she asked on Facebook if anyone knew of something similar happening in the Yukon.

To that the answer was no, but someone suggested Horsey start up a Yukon group.

To that, her answer was yes.

On May 8, she started the Yukon Wine Ninjas group on Facebook, writing: “Things are hard right now with the pandemic, so why not brighten up someone’s day or have yours brightened with a random act of kindness.”

It didn’t take long before women were signing on and pictures were being posted of the presents received by those who had been “ninjaed.”

Ninjas have gotten decked out in costumes and come up with creative ways to sneak parcels onto doorsteps and knock or ring a doorbell before quickly taking off.

Wine and other beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), snacks, books, candles, soaps and more have all been received often to grateful recipients who post photos of their gifts, declaring they’ve been ninjaed and thanking the mystery gift-giver.

Horsey acknowledges there have been a few cases of greed, where a small number have complained about the gifts. Most — nearly all — though are there for the giving and are enjoying surprising others with the goody bags.

She advised anyone joining the group just to get a package on their doorstep should probably not sign up. That’s not what it’s for, she said, emphasizing the “random acts of kindness” the group is focused on.

To make sure it’s as open to everyone as possible, there’s no set amount ninjas have to spend on gifts.

It could be as little as a chocolate bar — just something to make someone else’s day a little nicer, she said. Many often go much further with gift bags full of items specific to the recipient, she said.

Ninjas provide details about themselves such as their likes and dislikes when they join the ninja group (a process that involves answering questions and approval by group administrators). While many list their address within their community or neighbourhood groups, the addresses are deleted after they’ve been “hit” with a gift.

Recognizing there are safety concerns for many when it comes to listing addresses in a group like this (and RCMP in other regions have advised against providing personal information, specifically when it comes to children, on ninja groups), Horsey said members can also opt out of posting their addresses and simply get in touch with an administrator to leave it with them. That way, the only other person who will get the address is a ninja who indicates they want to deliver to that person.

Ninjas can pick anyone they want to deliver to, she said.

When Horsey created the group she thought maybe 200 would sign up. Instead she soon found herself dealing with hundreds of requests, having to add on administrators to help her and having to create separate sections by neighbourhood or community. Efforts also saw a ninja delivery to Old Crow with another being planned in the near future.

Horsey has also heard from a number of local businesses who say they’re thankful for the shoppers who are making purchases to ninja others.

“It’s definitely caught on,” Horsey said, adding that along with the gifts that are purchased, there currently seems to be a bit of a shortage on gift bags at some stores around town.

Horsey said given the popularity of the ninjas, the group will continue on indefinitely, perhaps with special ninja events for holidays like Christmas.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com