Nunavik’s new treatment centre facing construction delays

Isuarsivik hopes to resume programming by the end of the year

New materials are delivered to the building site of the new Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre in Kuujjuaq in 2020. Delays have now pushed the opening of the facility to 2023. (Photo by Samuel Legacé)

By Sarah Rogers

Nunavik’s addictions treatment centre is facing COVID-19 related delays that have suspended its programming and delayed the opening of its new facility.

Construction on the new Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre in Kuujjuaq was set to begin this summer, but measures to limit the number of construction workers coming into the region mean that work will have to wait until the summer of 2021.

To reduce the potential spread of COVID-19, the Northern Village of Kuujjuaq opted to limit the number of construction workers from outside the region to five at a time this summer. That means the firm that was awarded the contract to build the new facility, Les Constructions Pépin et Fortin Inc., can only begin work on the project starting next spring.

Isuarsivik’s executive director, Alicia Aragutak, said the delays come at a time when treatment services are in demand more than ever, and the centre is doing its best to minimize the impact for Nunavimmiut in need.

“Following a prolonged period of isolation, the need for recovery services and resources is growing in the region for people who not only want to stop consuming, but also aim to reduce the amount and frequency of use,” Aragutak said in a Sept. 9 release.

“We are disappointed for the families in need who are eagerly awaiting the new family recovery program, which can only be offered in our new facility,” she said. “However, I want to reassure the population that our 42-day recovery program will be maintained in our current premises with the highest standards of quality and safety until the opening of the new centre.”

Isuarsivik has been operating in Kuujjuaq since 1994, offering addictions recovery programming for people across Nunavik.

In its current form, the centre hosts nine people at a time for six-week sessions. With more than $40 million secured last year from the federal, provincial and regional governments, Isuarsivik is positioned to triple its capacity in a new facility, offering a family-focused recovery program.

The new centre is now scheduled to open in 2023.

In the meantime, Isuarsivik has recently reopened its administrative section. While its staff prepare the centre to meet recommendations for inpatient services, Isuarsivik hopes to be back in operation to offer at least one women’s program cycle by the end of 2020.

Nunavimmiut can apply to the centre any time at; applications are added to a wait list and will be evaluated for future cycles.

Isuarsivik is also hosting a fundraising plant sale. Until Sept. 15, residents of Kuujjuaq and Puvinirtuq can pre-order a succulent plant called a bird’s nest snake plant for $40.

Residents in other communities can order a plant to donate to someone in recovery. All proceeds will go to Isuarsivik’s programs and services in Nunavik.

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