Iqaluit Humane Society to open doors to new location in 2023

Society’s president Janelle Kennedy said total cost to acquire, set up new space is $2.4 million

After closing shop at a city-owned location in 2020 and raising $500,000 for a new space the same year, the Iqaluit Humane Society will be opening its new shelter in Apex in June 2023. (Photo by Meral Jamal)

By Meral Jamal

The Iqaluit Humane Society has found a new home for itself.

After closing shop at a city-owned site in 2020 and raising $500,000 for a new space the same year, the animal-care agency will move into its new location in Building 3070 in Apex in June 2023.

Janelle Kennedy, president of the Iqaluit Humane Society, pictured here in 2018, said the larger goal is also to provide services such as pet grooming, boarding, dog daycare and a vet clinic, eventually creating “a rescue that is self-sustained.” (File photo)

The humane society purchased the property earlier this year from Nunavet, a veterinary service.

The process of finding and buying a building has been “a really long journey,” said society president Janelle Kennedy.

“As we all know, properties are very hard to find in Iqaluit and also commercial properties with a decent amount of yard space that you can actually work with animals,” she said.  “We were looking for something quite unique, and we were not really in the competitive category.

“It kind of came to a head when I literally tried door to door to see what could be possible.”

Of the $500,000 raised by the humane society, $250,000 was provided by the Eric S. Margolis Family Foundation.

Kennedy said the foundation has provided additional funding since then. The total cost to purchase the building and set up the new location was about $2.4 million, she said.

Now that the humane society has purchased the building, Kennedy said the next steps involve equipping and furnishing the space to start operating as a shelter by next summer.

A larger goal is to also provide services such as pet grooming, boarding, dog daycare and a veterinary clinic, eventually creating “a rescue that is self-sustained.”

That means the society — a registered non-profit — will have to establish a company to run the services, with all the profits donated back into animal rescue.

“It creates a positive feedback loop,” she said of the long-term plan.

“In the first years of running businesses, you don’t necessarily profit. But the idea is that we become mutually beneficial to one another, while also providing much-needed services.”

Kennedy recalled the challenges caused by the pandemic, coupled with having to close its previous space that was owned by the City of Iqaluit, and was later condemned.

“Without having a physical building to work from, it just made a hard volunteer job harder,” she said. “We switched to being foster-based, relying on a very few homes that are allowed pets.

“And then also running things out of my own personal home — my garage has bins of supplies for the shelter, has dog food that we sell to people, my truck is mostly full of kennels and supplies. The trailer in my yard is always full of kennels that we use for transport.”

“Chaos” is the word to describe the past two years, she said.

And yet, she added, stopping those services was not an option.

“How can we say no, when an animal was in need and had nowhere to go?”

She said she hopes that with the new building, the community will pitch in and help out again.

“We’re going to need the Government of Nunavut, we’re going to need the City of Iqaluit, we may need the Government of Canada, and we’re going to need individual community members and organizations to step up and help us make this happen,” Kennedy said.

“Just because we’ve bought this building doesn’t mean we won’t still need paint donations so we can paint the walls, or help with tearing up the floor so that we can put down something waterproof,” she added.

“We’re going to need all hands on deck and I hope people see that as a community, if they contribute, they will get back those rewards and they can help put in that effort to make this all happen.”


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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by hunter3 on

    Great news! But what happened to Nunavet? Is there no longer a vet clinic in Iqaluit?

  2. Posted by Both sides on

    Good question; did Nunatsiaqnews perform their due diligence and reach out to NunaVet for their side of the story? I’m sure there are lots of pet owners in Iqaluit that have questions. What happened to proper journalism?

    • Posted by I agree with both sides on

      The fact that the only reference to NunaVet is as a “veterinary service” and that there is no mention of the fact that it was Nunavut’s first and only Veterinary Clinic, which was owned and operated by the first Inuk doctor; a local, born and raised beneficiary is proof of the subtle yet significant ongoing impact of colonialism in the media and the approach to Inuit-owned businesses.

      • Posted by Kindness on

        Nunavut’s first and only vet is an uncomfortable conversation. Sometimes one’s own personal problems are just that, and until they are dealt with, that conversation can’t happen.

      • Posted by On the Other Hand on

        Or, maybe everyone knows of the previous vet and the Nunatsiaq writers were doing a kindness by not mentioning that business or individual?

        The old adage “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all” may have been at work.

  3. Posted by Northern Guy on

    I wonder how the residents of Apex feel about having a few dozen constantly yapping and smelly dogs in their midst? Do they get a say and has anyone asked the City planners whether this a compatible use of land given the residential land zoning surrounding this site?

    • Posted by woof woof on

      Apex dog owner here. I’m excited about this, but I’m curious about the logistics of this too. Will the large, older dogs be outside in pens 24/7 like they were at federal road? The potential for barking and howling didn’t matter as much out there. There are homes all over the place with families that could use some assurance that this won’t be the case at the new location. Ready to support them, but communication would help:)
      Thanks for all you do, Iqaluit Humane Society.

    • Posted by John K on

      What city planners?

      Iqaluit’s planning department seems to have a sole employee who isn’t educated as a planner.

  4. Posted by qimmiq on

    I used to live in Iqaluit and was very happy to have a local vet, even though it seemed that the clinic was closed more than it was open. So what happened? Did Nunavet go out of business? Is that why the building is available? I am curious about all of these comments I am seeing. Vet service is sorely needed in Iqaluit. Were people just not paying their bills or what?

    • Posted by Willy on

      Read the room. Clearly things didn’t end up going well. That doesn’t mean people aren’t proud and appreciative of the Dr. for her service and for the enormous amount of hard work, sacrifice and intelligence it took to become a doctor. The clinic is closed, and it isn’t because of the customers. That’s all you need to know. Stop fishing for town gossip. You said you don’t even live here, and even if you did, you don’t need to know the dirt, if there even is any. That’s a human being.

      • Posted by qimmiq on

        Not fishing for dirt. Genuinely curious as to how such a much-needed service is no longer available in Iqaluit. The demand is there so even if the clinic needed a new Veterinarian, why couldn’t the position be filled? I plan on returning to Iqaluit but am now having second thoughts if there isn’t a local vet for my pets.

        • Posted by Humane society partial blame on

          Humane society brought up vets and provided services free of charge, is partially to blame, run em out of business then buy their building.

          • Posted by Willy on

            No. Nunatsiaq ran a story about the city council meeting where that was brought up. By their own admission, the owners of NunaVet were over a million dollars in debt at that point, before the Humane Society’s free clinic.

          • Posted by Not At All on

            Absolutely not. The lack of business acumen and the weak services provided by Nunavet were the cause of its undoing.

      • Posted by hunter3 on

        I agree with Qimmiq’s question. Nobody needs to get involved in the personal business of the original vet. If she let personal problems sink all her years of hard work then that’s on her. It’s very strange that there were no experienced veterinarians to be found Canada-wide to buy the practice and keep it going (I say experienced bc brand new vets lack the business experience to launch their own practice for quite a few years). Were rotating vets run out of town??? I think there are many layers to this story. I guess at least the humane society gets a win out of this. I hope the city of Iqaluit tries to recruit a veterinary clinic. It is sorely needed here in Iqaluit.

        • Posted by Willy on

          Despite what people believe, most vets don’t make a lot of money. They go to school for 9, 10 years? MDs up here are hired by the GN and get bonuses and all sorts of incentives. Not so with vets working for a private clinic. There has only ever been one vet clinic up here for a reason. No one wants to move here and live here and make the same (or even a little more) money they’d make down south. NunVet was started by someone from here. No one ran the vets they were able to hire out of town. The last one was here because another family member was assigned here temporarily. When that assignment was up, they left. You can’t force people want to move here.
          That said, the crap on social media over the years surely didn’t help our local vet. If we ever do get another vet clinic, people need to respect and understand the boundaries the dr has to set.

        • Posted by What Customers and at What Cost? on

          Nunavut would be a very tough market without some sort of subsidy. The costs are incredibly high to start a new business, and unless a person loves the Nunavut life-style there is no reason to. If you just want a successful practice, you could set up a vet clinic in a small rural town and have a much larger customer base at far lower cost than operating in Nunavut. With agricultural animals to complement pets you would be much more secure than in Nunavut.

          I can’t imagine trying to start a practice without government subsidy/guaranteed contracts, etc.


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