Nunavik elders make up a growing share of region’s population

Research also finds elders are also working longer, supporting families

Residents of the Tusaajiapik elders home in Kuujjuaq learn to use iPads in 2014. New research shows Nunavik elders make up a growing proportion of the region’s population. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

Nunavik elders make up a growing proportion of the region’s population, recent university research says.

But Nunavik’s seniors are more likely to be supporting their families and living in run-down housing than their counterparts elsewhere in Quebec.

A new report prepared by researchers at Laval University shows that the population of Inuit elders in the region — those aged 65 and over — has more than doubled over the past 20 years.

In 1996, there were just 200 elders in Nunavik. By 2016, that number had increased to 415. The same year, the region’s overall population sat at just over 13,000.

That means Nunavik elders are growing as a segment of the population at a faster pace than seniors elsewhere in Quebec, noted Laval researcher Sébastien Lévesque.

“We can’t predict the future, but if this trend continues, the elders of Nunavik will occupy an increasingly big share of the population,” Lévesque told Kativik Regional Government council meetings Nov. 23.

Despite that gradual increase, researchers note that the proportion of elders in Nunavik remains much lower than that in Quebec overall — six times lower, in fact.

That’s due to a much lower life expectancy in Nunavik: 67 years compared to 80 years for the rest of the province.

Lévesque said you can also credit that disparity to Nunavik’s high birth rate, which means that children and youth make up a large part of the region’s population.

The report, titled The Elders of Nunavik: A Snapshot of the Socio-Economic Situation, is part of a larger statistical portrait Laval researchers help track for the region called Nunivaat.

The report also found that one in five elders in Nunavik heads a single-parent family, a proportion that is five times higher than in the rest of the province.

Among those single-parent families headed by an elder, 75 per cent are headed by a woman.

Nunavik elders are twice as likely to hold a job than other seniors in Quebec, or to look at it another way, less likely to be retired by 65.

“For some of them it could be linked to the need for a supplemental income,” Lévesque said.

Another glaring disparity: Nunavik elders are eight times more likely to live in unsuitable or overcrowded housing than Quebecers elsewhere.

The statistics point to major inequities between Inuit elders and seniors living elsewhere in Quebec, KRG councillors noted.

“We’re a totally different culture from the south — we take care of our households, even our adult children,” said Charlie Arngak, who sits on the KRG’s executive committee.

“But this shows that we need a Nunavik-specific support program for our elders.”

To that end, Laval researchers plan to survey Nunavik elders to gauge their needs in 2021 with the help of the KRG and Makivik Corp.

Nunavik applies to take part in Wage Circumpolar Partnership

Laval researchers have also submitted a proposal to the Research Council of Canada to take part in a circumpolar partnership that looks at economic and social inequities across the Arctic and circumpolar North.

The WAGE Partnership (Wealth of the Arctic Group of Experts) would bring together more than 35 members from Arctic nations over a five-year research period.

“What we want to accomplish is try to and understand how wealth is distributed throughout the Arctic, with these different actors,” said Gérard Duhaime, Canada Research Chair at Laval, during KRG council meetings Nov. 23.

“How can we reduce inequalities between households in the North? What kind of changes could we propose to reduce those inequalities? These are the kinds of questions we’ll ask if we get that grant.”

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(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by Don’t deny elder abuse on

    The intention is always good for Nunavik elders, but the outcome is not so positive. There are certain programs for elders, some discount and some made easier access to certain things, but I’m not going to go as far as to say , it’s better then southern Quebec or Canada as a whole. Frankly, I think if you were to make all the connection of the dots , Nunavik elders are not nearly as advantageous as elsewhere. Lots of elder abuse, in Nunavik, lots not out in the open for a southern researcher to see, it’s hidden. Since the beer and wine sales in our bigger communities, elders are abused more for the little bit of money they have. Elders also care for adult children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The neglect of children by many, are transferred to elders, and the government don’t respect that either, no money to elders for that. Our Nunavik elders haven’t got it all that good, some worse then others.

    • Posted by Our elder reality on

      I’m an elder. Love my kids grandkids. I’m always there for them good or not , good most time. Once I was called by dyp, they asked me if I would consider taking care of my grandkids. I didn’t fully comprehend, I didn’t realize that the parent , my child was having a breakdown. All in all I think I made dyp get the message that I’m not even to be asked, I’m the care giver period, parent grand parent or not. I and my spouse cared for our loving grandkids for a year until their parent recover, not a call from dyp after, no money for them, not they I want it. Some thing wrong Inuit, it’s Inuit turn to do something, or keeps a big ill

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