Nunavik childcare centre closes after mould discovery
“Whenever it rains or there’s a blizzard, water comes in"
Updated Jan. 21 at 4:50 p.m.
Public health officials in Nunavik said Jan. 21 that they’re investigating a mould outbreak at a Kangirsuk daycare centre and the possibility that it caused illness among the centre’s children or staff.
People in the Ungava Bay community allege that six different people, including children, became sick from exposure to the mould, Nunatsiaq News has been unable to confirm that.
Exposure can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, skin irritation or even fever and shortness of breath.
Parents in Kangirsuk have been without childcare services since Jan. 8, when the Nunavik community’s only childcare centre was forced to close.
A smell coming from the centre’s drains had grown stronger over the last several weeks, said Elisapie Thomassie, director of the Amaartauvik childcare centre. An inspection later confirmed the presence of mould.
Thomassie said Amaartauvik staff were already aware of the potential problems connected with mould after the Kativik Regional Government, which oversees Nunavik’s childcare centres, sent maintenance workers to look at the centre last fall.
Workers discovered issues with the centre’s indoor plumbing, Thomassie said. They noted that the wood on the outer part of the building was rotten, allowing moisture to easily enter the structure.
“Whenever it rains or there’s a blizzard, water comes in and mould can form in between the windows and walls,” Thomassie said.
The problems stem from poor construction of the building, she added — an issue affecting at least four other childcare centres in Nunavik built by the same firm.
For now, the KRG has committed to completely renovating the Kangirsuk facility, Thomassie said. That’s a project which may not be completed until next fall.
‘For now, we’re just trying to figure out where we’re going to be for the next 11 months,” she said. “Hopefully, the council can give us another building to use.”
But even if the municipal council is able to free up another building for the childcare centre to operate out of on a temporary basis, the centre may still have to wait on renovations, licensing and inspections before it can re-open to the public.
Amaartauvik, the only childcare centre in the community of 550, cares for up to 30 children at a time.
While it’s closed, Thomassie said working parents in the Ungava Bay community are scrambling to find other options.
Some have found temporary home-based childcare services, while other parents are bringing their young children to work with them in their amautiit, she said.
Nunavik’s public health department said it continues to monitor the situation, along with the KRG.