Qikiqtani Inuit Association rolls out pandemic support plan
“It’s imperative that we protect the most vulnerable in our communities”
The Qikiqtani Inuit Association says it will start distributing more than $6 million in federal money to help support its members during the COVID-19 pandemic, with food vouchers for elders, money for hunters, and increased support for children and families.
“We need to ensure that our elders have the food and basic supplies that they need, that our children are supported, and that no Qikiqtani Inuit are left hungry in these unpredictable times,” said QIA President P.J. Akeeagok in a March 30 news release.
The funds for QIA’s COVID-19 response plan flow from the Indigenous Community Support Fund announced by the federal government on March 25.
The QIA’s share is $6,132,544.
QIA plans to spend $3 million of that money to lessen the impact of the pandemic on elders.
Elders over 60 will receive $250 vouchers every other week, which can be exchanged at local Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. stores.
To help hunters harvest country food, the QIA said it will offer harvesters who have established camps or cabins more than $2 million in short-term financial assistance to go out on the land.
Priority will be given to Inuit who will spend 14 days or more on the land, the QIA said. They must supply their own transportation.
QIA has also set up a contingency fund to address any other needs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
QIA said it is also working to increase access to the 2018 Inuit Child First Initiative, set up in 2018 to ensure Inuit children have access to the health, social and educational supports they need, and will increase communications and public outreach efforts.
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. has also decided how to start spending Nunavut’s share of the federal government’s $305 million COVID-19 emergency fund for Indigenous people, with a $1.25-million allocation for water and sewer services.
To be clear, this is new federal money being invested. QIA continues to sit on the Legacy Fund, a result of Mining Royalties from Baffinland. Imagine the difference that could be made with some of those funds, rather then another hand out (much needed and deserved) from the Federal Government.
This federal funding according to news releases was for ALL indigenous peoples regardless. Now it is designated only to people of a specific age (elders) and for those with equipment (harvetsters have gear, and there are those with cabins). Where does this leave the average indigenous person who is not of age yet and has no means to harvest nor has a getaway place from town? Somehow this could/ should be made available for all indigenous peples regardless, instead of just for a specific few. My rant.