Nunavik youth, women, elders groups struggle against big problems
Saputiit youth group suffers from poor financial management
PUVIRNITUQ — Counsellors with the Kativik Regional Government weren’t impressed after hearing from women, youth and elders groups May 28 at their meeting in Puvirnituq.
Their presenters, who cited a range of social, organization and financial challenges, prompted Kangiqsualujjuaq’s mayor, Kitty Annanack, to reflect at the end of the session that Nunavik communities need to become better organized.
“We are so scattered and isolated from each other. It’s like we are missing pillars to support programs,” Annanack said.
During the first morning of the KRG’s four-day meeting in Puvirnituq, counsellors heard that the Saputiit youth association had to close its safe house for youth in Kuujjuaq because it couldn’t apply for funding again: no financial report on the project had been — or could be — filed.
Saputiit president Elizabeth Annahatak, who nearly broke down in tears at one point when describing the disarray within her office, said auditors found “many discrepancies” in Saputiit’s 2010-11 financial reporting and procedures.
Annahatak, who was elected last November, promised that her top priority would be to put the youth association back on a stable financial footing.
“We are moving towards a better organized structure in our association, and we will be more involved in Nunavik. We will get through this very challenging time,” Annahatak said, adding that she’s also concerned that many Nunavimmiut don’t understand their responsibilities as board members.
Elder Elasuk Pauyungie of Salluit, a long-time broadcaster with Nunavik’s Taqramiut Nipingat Inc. radio network and member of Nunavik’s elders committee, said members of her group want to see more respect for elders and for parents to show more respect for their children.
That was one of the messages they delivered during a recent regional tour of Nunavik communities.
Parents in Nunavik need to “start taking responsibility for their actions and negligence” and stop blaming youth protection workers for their problems or for taking away their children if they’re neglected.
When the elders started their tour, they focused on elders, but quickly realized they had to involve people of all ages, Pauyungie said.
The elders’ tour has so far been a “wake up call” for elders because they’re usually too silent, she said.
Meanwhile, Quebec will give Nunavik’s Saturviit women’s association $450,000 over the next three years to support various projects, said Lisa Koperqualuk, the president of Saturviit.
Saturviit has set aside $3,000 per year for every Nunavik community to use for women’s activities and projects that benefit women, she said.
The association is also planning to start a “child advocacy and family resources centre” in a Hudson Bay community, Koperqualuk said.
Saturviit is also looking at developing a “Charter of Rights for Nunavik Children.”
This would be used to “inspire better solutions for Nunavik children,” and help break what she called the “ongoing grudge” against youth protection authorities who often remove children from homes.