New Inuulitsivik director wants more Inuit working in health care

Sarah Beaulne joins Hudson Coast health centre after career in municipal services, policing

Sarah Beaulne is the new executive director of Inuulitsivik Health Centre. (Photo courtesy of Inuulitsivik Health Centre)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The new executive director of the Inuulitsivik Health Centre says she wants to see more Inuit working in health-care jobs in the region.

Sarah Beaulne was appointed to the position last month, taking leadership of the health network that provides various services in the eight villages of Nunavik’s Hudson Bay coast.

Three weeks into her new role, Beaulne said in an interview she’s still adjusting to the position and getting to know other leaders in the health organization.

Coming from a family of health-care workers herself, she encourages Inuit from the villages on the coast to pursue health-related education to help fill various jobs in the organization, including nurses, drivers and translators.

“There’s a lot to do in our organization,” Beaulne said.

“I’m 100 per cent encouraging youth in finding their career in health … I strongly encourage Inuit to come work with us.”

Beaulne, 44, is from Puvirnituq, where the health centre is primarily based.

Her resume includes various leadership roles in her municipality, Kativik Regional Government and Kativik Ilisarniliriniq school board, and as a police officer with Nunavik Police Service (at the time called Kativik Regional Police Force).

In recent months, Inuulitsivik has faced criticism from staff and patients.

In the summer, the head of the Hudson Bay nurses’ union expressed concerns about working conditions in the region, citing burnout and staffing shortages.

Last month, a woman from Umiujaq who was in Purvirnituq for an appointment spoke about safety concerns after she was picked up at the airport in a pickup truck instead of the shuttle van she had requested.

Beaulne said she’s aware some of these issues need improvement, and she will collaborate with staff who are working to resolve them.

“I’m coming into the organization, and there already is a team that is working hard resolving the issues that Inuulitsivik has,” Beaulne said.

“I know, for a fact, that these issues are being taken care of, and there’s a lot of work that has been done in order to better the working conditions, including Inuit working conditions.”

Beaulne’s appointment received a largely positive reception. Dozens of messages of congratulations filled the comment section of Inuulitsivik’s Facebook post announcing her new role.

“We wish Mrs. Beaulne success in her new role and are enthused to collaborate with her to continue improving the health services offered in the region.” said Shirley White-Dupuis, chairperson of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services board of directors, in a Dec. 6 news release.

Beaulne said she sees encouraging teamwork and listening to other leaders within the health network as some of her key responsibilities in her new role.

As an Inuktitut, French and English speaker, she said she hopes to foster a culturally sensitive health-care setting while working with all players in the region to ensure it stays strong.

“To facilitate the services, I think I have a good image of what should be done with cultural sensitivity,” Beaulne said.

“Our traditions are verbal, mostly, so giving information in our own language is very important, and for this position I feel that’s a key role I have to play.”


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(23) Comments:

  1. Posted by Look deeper on

    Looking deeper into the issues, first bring more insight and awareness of self and the community. Then addressing the issues, and laying out plans for solution to make a better future. The lack of Inuit in professional roles are concerning, and having more Inuit would make life better for all. But too often when the table is set for talks, the real issues aren’t addressed. There’s too much drinking and drugs among Inuit of Nunavik. There’s little and almost no motivation to learn in school. There’s no mental Health services for a population that’s spiralling into suicide and more and more homicide. Family breakdown has gone to crisis levels. Child raring would make the ancestors roll in their graves. The people supposedly leading the groups of meetings and agenda’s are not doing much to shape change, even though the money is there. I think it’s good for an Inuk to be in the positions, but we need more Inuit in the positions that are role models of having accomplished the higher education.

  2. Posted by Leadership on

    Enough of telling us what you want.
    Tell us what you are going to do.
    Even better, lead by example.
    Show us what you are doing. Maybe we will follow.

    • Posted by The problem on

      The problem is some people, maybe too many people are only able to wait for others to do everything for them. They’re only ready to follow, and not lead. They don’t even have to lead, all they need to do is live their best life , and when you don’t know what that is, something has gone terribly wrong. Motivation is within. Do you know the real learner needs a teacher, but only as a guide, not as someone to learn it for you. The individual is needed to make up the group and the collective community, but when the group overcome the individual negatively, there you have your ruination. If you don’t take at stand about the sins of the people around you, you become a sin yourself.

  3. Posted by northerner in the south. on

    perhaps less people working in the med field (quitting or deciding not a carreer) because of the government. Cant say what you think, quotas to fill for things you moraly dont agree with. Then the internal power struggles between southern nurses with a control chip on their shoulder. I could never work in a field where I am required to keep my mouth shut on treatments and reasons that I believe to be true, even with my education. I would make a great nurse or doctor. People regularly come to me for help with their health and I can usually help them, but the medical system would never have me.

    • Posted by A response to northerner in south on

      If you are educated, and not satisfied with the government. You are in a better position to do something about it. Lots of opportunities to run for election in Nunavik. If you get in one of the positions of Makivik, KRG etc, will you not be in the front seat to name positive change? And if people are coming to you about their health issues, can’t you with an education do something good with that for more career choice , something that connects your schooling with a job to be in a primary role ? I’m just curious too about having an education and having an accessible link to peoples health?

  4. Posted by Basics on

    Everybody wants to HAVE inuit working in health care, but almost nobody wants to BE the inuit working in health care. That is the real issue, and like the people who posted above, “supporting” and repetitively calling for something doesn’t make it happen.

    Dealing with the root causes of community dysfunction (which is actually, at its root, that too much is provided to people by government with no strings attached to work for it themselves, or even meet any standard like getting their kids out of bed, fed and to school) must happen first, or this long-expressed goal of inuit providing health care to inuit will never be achieved. The kids need to be well looked after, get an education, and then have the motivation of needing to support themselves and their community to make them take on the huge commitment and responsibility of working in health care.

    • Posted by I disagree on

      I really don’t think the issue in Nunavik is that we get too much for free like you are saying. I am a beneficiary who has gotten a high level education I am using for the betterment of other beneficiaries and were it not for the ‘free’ education provided to me because of the JBNQA I would not have been able to afford university at all!
      If you think the root cause of dysfunction in Nunavik is that we are given too much with no strings attached, I really don’t know what to say. Kids go hungry, Adults go without jobs, and positions stay empty despite qualified inuit interviewing for positions and not getting the job. Sometimes qualified inuit are left out while a position stays vacant until a nice southerner comes in from the places the southern managers do and all of a sudden the job is filled.
      How are our people supposed to get past decades of ingrained trauma when parents can’t find jobs despite being qualified and kids go hungry? Is this a recipe for success in school in general, let alone high-stress/high-education fields like medicine?
      If you think our biggest issue is we get too many things for free with no questions asked from Quebec and Canada, maybe you should think again. That’s certainly not the cause of the issues I see affecting us every day!

      • Posted by Nothing is free, even if it is. on

        If anything is free, or should I say “given out “in Nunavik, it makes sense with the cost of living, therefore it’s not free, but added to the equality of trying to catch up with the province or country. Now , that being said, we have to be careful in defining free. If you need to have food, and living , that’s vital, then, being part of a federal system, it’s not free , but being equal, being equal to be exercising why it’s a union of providing for all. But when you don’t work for your life earnings , like not getting a chance to build up your appreciation, that’s not free either, that’s degrading, and it rots the character. So, next time you consider free this and that, consider what and why ! And how much is given out, and how much is earned and appreciative.

      • Posted by What’s the problem then? on

        Nothing is free, I guarantee you. As an educated person, tell us then what is the problem with Nunavik? Is it the past that haunts people into generations of not behaving well? Why do people drink and use drugs so much, and let their little kids be left to the care of people from down south? Why are there so much abuse, suicide, homicide, why are the jails full, why all the injuries from drunks? Maybe you can share more about what you think, it may enlighten us all. Why do people not handle alcohol well, but it continues to be sold at coop stores? What are people in Nunavik, like you doing to make life a little better for people, tell us more.

  5. Posted by What we have Inuit in positions on

    I know every Inuit in every position in Nunavik, and I can’t name one that has the qualifications to be in these health care roles. They are only in the positions as icons, being Inuit and happening to be from Nunavik with the highest qualifications among Inuit, not among the mainstream peers who have higher education. Just prove me wrong please and show me the degrees required to have these jobs, I’m waiting.

  6. Posted by Falling apart on

    Nunavik society continues to fall apart, even as the population grows. The kids are at risk. That means the future is not going to go well for many. We’re always patting people on the back as though they just came out of some great accomplishment, not realizing that these people were also there, doing nothing for their education. Using just what was given to them, not earned , given. Having a Inuk in a position! Just to fill that position . It’s injustice to the people of Nunavik, even if many people in Nunavik are not aware. What next , get a few to give out medication, do blood work, X-rays, and minor surgery, just because they are from Nunavik. And are Inuit?

  7. Posted by Sure on

    Earn $30k a year and get social housing with no job and children. Earn 80k to answer phones in government with grade 10. Or put in the work for $140k as a registered nurse and four years of university. I wonder what people will pick?

  8. Posted by Confused on

    When I was treated by an Inuk nurse I was so scared but She saved my life, and now I am confident they are just the same as all the nurses all around.
    Yes We need more Inuit nurses and doctors.

    • Posted by A nurse is a nurse on

      Good for you and the nurse. It’s not about a nurse, whether Inuit of non Inuit. It’s about the societal make up of taking no responsibility to prosperity. Individuals do over come the struggles to get ahead, but they’re few and far between, due to lack of ongoing leadership without education or commitments. Too many people are running around the top jobs with non other than being Inuit, not educated, and the educated ones from the south are not committed, and fail to live with their hearts here. It’s about being educated and being steadfast in commitment.

    • Posted by Jack on

      Not sure what race has to do with it, but I had a serious injury three years ago and required regular dressing changes at the Iqaluit hospital, and my nurse was an Inuit woman. She was very kind and tried to cheer me up at a very bad time in life, and I will always be grateful for that. If that’s what all Inuit nurses would be like, I certainly agree with you, but it probably comes down to the person like anything else, and the profession they choose.

  9. Posted by Wait a minute on

    We’re talking about Nunavik here, where you can get workers to open a store or a gas station in the morning, or all day long. What’s the incentive to get health care workers with that kind of unreliable ethics? Did I miss something, or tell me more about your dreams and aspirations.

    • Posted by I do wonder… on

      I wonder what the TRUE unemployment rate in Nunavut is when you factor in all these redundant jobs with 21 people on the books that 8 people could cover.

      • Posted by Wonder no more on

        If you were asking the same question about Nunavik I would say that you need the 21 people to keep the system operate, while the 8 at a time are no shows.

  10. Posted by Slept in again on

    Health care is under the responsible, essential jobs whereby you can’t be late or a no show for work. If anyone is thinking seriously about getting more Nunavik Inuit in that trade, it’s better to start emphasizing the importance of being there as needed. If you take a good look around Nunavik, it’s not difficult to see businesses not open a lot due to no show of employees. That’s not going to work well for health care. That don’t work for health care. Theses sleepy no show people are no working there, and will never be a lot be part of team work.

  11. Posted by A guess game for all on

    Can you guess which community I’m in on a Monday morning at 11 o’clock . I’ll give you some hints. The coop store is not open. The gas station , oops, two gas stations not open. Only two water truck crews working. No sewage workers. But, northern store open, plus health center. Radio staff no show. Two cars off in the ditch. One red 4 wheeler on side of road abandoned. Challenger landing , ambulance wit red light flashing at airport. And tell the artist to draw a picture of culture.

  12. Posted by Too many simple questions on

    As Christmas is coming, now starts the simple minded guessing games on many fm radios through out Nunavik. Like guess who I saw outside earlier, guess what I’m looking at in fm station. Guess who was wearing red yesterday? OMG, is that the kind of people that will work at health care in future ? Not educational games but simple mindedness for guess foolishness. Little children are exposed to that ridiculous chattering all through Christmas, and don’t forget kids bingo game. They grow up to learn fast. Why not guess how much so and so drank before going off the road in a new truck, belonging to which organization? And how many people got hurt or killed this year by drunken fools ?

    • Posted by Drunks had their say and cried too on

      Radio fm are world wide today. Everyone everywhere can listen in by online connections. Call in shows and games were kept to very childlike behaviour, and what else can we expect? Guess this and that, not a bit of strategy or thinking needed. But drunks once again got their say and cried openly about something that they said happened years ago, but everytime they used their coop membership that sadness comes up again on the end of the night, and what to do , but call in to the fm , and enlighten the community with drunken cries. It’s very disappointing to hear drunks being served openly on fm stations with their drunken cries and screaming, all the while our kids are listening as well. . That kind of tolerance and behaviour should have been extinguished long along. Disappointing.

  13. Posted by Stephen on

    Cuba, a poor nation graduates and employs more doctors and is able to send many of them overseas in times of crisis in other parts of the world. How can Cuba do that, not by following the system we use. An exchange of and collaboration with them, I suggest, can be made. Send a few promising Inuit there to learn, have a few Cubans come to Nunavik. Where there is a will, there is a way.

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