Family of 13 living in particle-board shack on Apex beach

Jacoposee Tiglik and his large family may soon get a chance at a decent house.



IQALUIT — Thirteen people from Pangnirtung who are living in a shack in Apex may soon have a shot at getting social housing.
Last week, Iqaluit’s housing authority waived the residency requirements that barred Jacoposee Tiglik and his family from getting onto Iqaluit’s social housing waiting list.

Iqaluit has a rule that people on their waiting list for social housing must have lived in Iqaluit for at least one year. But Hellwig argued the rule should be waived because of the family’s large size.

“We’ve done the same for other families in need. Why not this time?” said Housing Authority board member Bryan Hellwig.

But it was a close 2-1 vote in favor of Hellwig’s motion. The board’s chairman, Simon Nattaq, seemed uncomfortable with the vote’s outcome, saying the decision should be deferred to their December meeting for further discussion.
“I oppose this because we’re the Iqaluit housing authority and we have to take care of Iqaluit people first,” said Housing Authority board member Annie Ataguyuk.

She said people in Iqaluit who had been waiting for housing for a long time might resent the decision to move an out-of-town family up the waiting list.

But the resolution stood and housing authority staff said this week they are processing the application without the residency requirement.

Tiglik, an artist and singer from Pangnirtung, said he moved his family from the community they have lived in almost all their lives because there are no jobs there and there is little left to hold them to the place.

His mother had died and the money he earned from doing stencils was sporadic. He said he thinks he can find work in Iqaluit, along with buyers for his art in Nunavut’s capital.

They left Pangnirtung by plane in July, expecting to be able to get a house quickly.

The jobs and the art buyers came as expected, but getting an affordable house proved difficult. The family ran afoul of the one-year residency requirement, and also owe $1,500 in arrears to the Pangnirtung housing authority.

In August, Tiglik had to quit the job that he found with the Nunavut Construction Corporation when he realized he would have to build something to replace the tent his family had been using for shelter.

Cobbled together with scrap wood from the dump, the house uses particle board for its walls, floors and roof. There are squares of carpet placed on parts of the floor, and Tiglik has jury-rigged an oil furnace stove at one end of the house.

A television and VCR sit in one corner of the family’s living area along with some chairs. The house is full of the smell of oil and naphtha.

Tiglik said through an interpreter that it costs about $1,000 a month to heat and light the place witha generator and a space heater.

Two of his children are in school, but most of the others aren’t old enough to attend yet. His daughter, Susie Newkingak, works at the Iqaluit homeless shelter.

Tiglik says his wife, Jeannie Newkingak, and their children get sick a lot and he feels bad about having them live in the shack. One of his daughters is pregnant and is due to give birth Dec. 7.

Tiglik has been going to neighbours for water and he said he feels bad about imposing on them even though they are helpful and generous.

But Tiglik remains hopeful about the housing authority’s recent decision, and expects word soon from housing authority staff about when they may soon get a house .

“I don’t get too discouraged living here,” he said. Tiglik says he grew up in a sod house at an outpost camp and says he and his family have no regrets about coming to Iqaluit.

Jeannie Newkingak said she didn’t think people in Iqaluit would resent it if their family were to get a house.

Most of the people she said she talked to were very supportive and were happy to hear that the family might be able to move into better accommodations, she said.

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