Iqaluit wellness centre receives land approval, funding for materials

More funding needed to complete Inuusirvik Community Wellness Hub, however, says organizer

Construction of the Inuusirvik Community Wellness Centre, seen here in an architect’s rendering, is on track to begin in the spring in Iqaluit, but more funding is still needed to complete the project. (Image courtesy of the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre)

By Madalyn Howitt

Construction of the Inuusirvik Community Wellness Hub in Iqaluit is on track to begin this spring, thanks to funding for materials, but more is still needed to complete the project.

Gwen Healey Akearok is the executive and scientific director of the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre, the organization spearheading the wellness hub initiative.

Once opened, the hub will provide land-based programs, early childhood education programs, Inuit counselling services, suicide prevention programming, and health programming for mothers and their children.

Akearok said that the centre has received money from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency to purchase construction materials after pandemic supply chain issues and the rising cost of lumber pushed the cost of the wellness centre from $4 million to $10 million last year.

“We’re still very much in need of funding,” she said. In order to fully complete construction and begin operations, Akearok says her organization needs another $3 to $4 million to finish the project. “We’re still submitting proposals, but we have enough for the moment with the support of CanNor to at least get started.”

After a months-long process including a public hearing and a public consultation, Akearok said the research centre has also received final approval from the city to merge two plots of land that the wellness hub will be built on — one already owned by the research centre and the other a neighbouring property that had been abandoned.

It’s one of many steps on the path to construction, Akearok said, and there are more to take before the group can break ground.

City of Iqaluit spokesperson Aleksey Cameron confirmed in an email to Nunatsiaq News last month that a development permit application submitted by the Qaujigiartiit Centre will be reviewed by the city’s planning and development committee early this year.

The centre will require both a development permit from the city and a building permit from the Government of Nunavut prior to construction.

“More technical things are happening now through the winter and then we hope to get going in the early spring when the construction business starts again,” Akearok said, who added the plan is still to use “as much local labour as possible and create learning opportunities.”

“We’re hoping to partner with local builders who will be open to the idea of using the opportunity for mentorship for young people in trades or beginning in a trade career,” she said.

“It fits in with the entire holistic intent of the hub in the ways in which we can contribute to community wellness. We like to see that reflected, even right down to the building process.”

Once final details are in place, Akearok said she’s looking forward to seeing the centre being built.

“It’s just so exciting to think about what the ripple effects might be for our community, not just here in Iqaluit where the hub will be but we hope it will be a replicable model for all of our communities,” she said.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Holistic approach on

    A holistic approach to supporting families healing includes men. Without supporting men who are struggling with mental health, addictions, anger management, disempowerment, emasculation too often leads to problems and sometimes violence in the home.

    This healing centre should recognize that our society and our community needs this centre but not one that excludes men.

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  2. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    All very nice and much needed, but did they think of housing accommodation for these women and children.

  3. Posted by atii on

    A much needed centre for Iqalummiut. Inuktitut culturally grounded programming is so sorely required too. Thank you! Just a question, what does inuusirvik mean? It’s not in our dialect here in Iqaluit. Anytime something is started or opened, there are always criticisms or naysayers. Anything started can’t be the answer to everything. Good job Qaujigiaqtiit! Keep up the good work!

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