Manitoba Inuit group expanding its work to Churchill
Association has temporary office space in community’s health centre, hopes to provide outreach and support services to Inuit
The Manitoba Inuit Association is extending its reach nearly 2,000 kilometres north of its Winnipeg office to help Inuit living in the small community of Churchill.
The association, based predominantly in Winnipeg and serving roughly 650 Inuit in the province, provides support and services in employment and training, health care and education.
The satellite office in Churchill will build on that work, according to president Marti Ford.
“We need to make sure that there are supports in place in the way of food, because there’s a food security issue,” she said.
“[And] we’re looking at housing, we’re looking at education, we’re looking at the needs of our community as they arise.”
Churchill, located on Hudson Bay, has a population of about 900 — and an equal number of polar bears living around it, according to the provincial government.
The office operates in temporary space in the community health centre until a permanent home is found and the association is already supporting Inuit who live in Churchill or travel through for reasons such as medical care.
One initiative accessed by Inuit in Churchill over the years is distribution of food hampers that “is currently serving approximately 90 Inuit in Churchill,” CEO Nastania Mullin said in an email.
“This is without doing any outreach or looking into the other programs and services that the Manitoba Inuit Association can provide to Churchill Inuit.”
With the new office, Mullin hopes to expand services in the northerly community, especially through the Child First Initiative “which ensures that a child has all their basic needs being met.”
Mullin said the association is working to hire a navigator and liaison person focused on providing Child First services to Inuit families in Churchill while communicating with the association’s office in Winnipeg.
Ford said the position adds to the association’s larger goal of supporting Inuit who have “no borders.”
“When I’m speaking about the Inuit homelands, it’s one of the things that we are working hard with the Manitoba government to be recognized in … to make sure that the Inuit or representatives having homes in northern Manitoba are being part of [acknowledgements and support],” she said.