Nunavut’s small communities need more support setting up shelters, says Quassa

“The needs and challenges of Nunavut’s other communities are left by the side of the trail”

Paul Quassa, the MLA for Aggu, is calling on the Nunavut government to provide more support to communities outside Iqaluit to start and operate homeless shelters. (Photo by John Thompson)

By Jane George

Nunavut’s government should do more to help communities outside Iqaluit start and operate homeless shelters, says Aggu MLA Paul Quassa.

“Iqaluit gets so much support, that the needs and challenges of Nunavut’s other communities are left by the side of the trail,” Quassa said on Wednesday, May 29.

Quassa’s comments were spurred by a minister’s statement given a day earlier by Family Services Minister Elisapee Sheutiapik, who provided an update on Iqaluit’s “damp” shelter, a pilot project that accepts clients who have been drinking.

Nunavut’s other communities also struggle with homelessness, substance abuse, and the need for a safe warm shelter, said Quassa, and need similar assistance.

“These are issues facing all communities across Nunavut both big and small, they are all facing the dire situation, he said.

“We all know that it is important that our government work with all of the Nunavut communities to find innovative solutions not only here in Iqaluit, but in all of the communities.”

His comments earned him a round of applause from many members.

Quassa asked Sheutiapik to clarify what steps her department has taken to provide buildings, funding, resources, or other support services to address homelessness in Nunavut’s other communities, including his constituency, which covers part of Igloolik.

Sheutiapik didn’t give a straightforward answer, but did say that the damp shelter may be based in Iqaluit, but its clients come from all over Nunavut.

“It is utilized by other Nunavut communities. It is not only for people from Iqaluit,” she said.

Quassa asked if Sheutiapik would “commit to taking the proactive step of reaching out to the communities, outside of Iqaluit, which desperately need shelters for homeless, and provide them with similar levels of support as her department has provided for Iqaluit.”

In response, Sheutiapik implied that it’s up to the communities to make the first move, as Cambridge Bay did when the western Nunavut town worked to open its shelter for men.

“They took stock of what’s under-utilized and those are the kinds of partnership that I hope to continue,” Sheutiapik said.

Earlier in the week, Sheutiapik spoke about how Iqaluit’s damp shelter was started by a local community group. Then the department stepped in to provide a building, funding and resources.

“Through a partnership with the Inukshuk Guardian Society, the shelter opened in January as a three-month pilot project. I am pleased to report that the project has been extended until the end of June 2019, and the department is continuing to evaluate its impact and explore more long-term solutions,” she said.

As of May 5, 182 individuals, mainly men, accessed the shelter at least once, she said.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Paul who on

    Most or all the people using the Damp shelter have no place to drink so they drink outside and they are from the smaller communities

  2. Posted by Arctic Circle on

    Very, very important issue and discuss by Paul, he is a strong voice for his community and territory of Nunavut.

    Way to go Paul! You are great!

    • Posted by Igloolik Volunteer Here on

      Igloolik Has Many Volunteers! Igloolik is one of the only communities that for 5 years in a row has provided both food and toys for children every holiday season for every resident no exceptions, its Food bank and emergency voucher program runs year round with the help of amazing support from local volunteers. Local Igloolik Volunteers ran a 2 year hunter support program successfully, Igloolik volunteers host a annual BBQ every year, and Igloolik volunteers are the first out on the land to find those who have become loss or are in distress. Igloolik Volunteers host elders nights and sewing classes regularly, Igloolik volunteers feed the community with there catch weekly, Igloolik volunteers serve food at the scholls breakfast program, and Finally Igloolik volunteers are here, they are proud, they are local and they do a great job. Stop judging and open your Eyes !
      MR. Quassa is making a statement that we have the volunteers we do not have the facilities in remote communities for shelters. He is trying to promote the government to build capacity in all remote communities not just the Capital city or Igloolik. He is drawing attention to a basic Human right for services for ALL of Nunavut not just a select few. Way to go Paul your support of such important items does not go un noticed.

  3. Posted by General Mills on

    The shelters in Iqaluit and Cambridge Bay are set up and run by volunteers.
    If Quassa thinks Igloolik needs a sheter then where are the Igloolik volunteers?

  4. Posted by Suuqa on

    I wish more MLA’s would support this. It’s needed so badly in Communities. There are lots of men that are homeless and just going from one house to another. Please make this a priority. Men have jails, women have shelters. The men don’t have a voice. All help is given to women but men are negected big time in communities. NO wonder more men and young men are commiting suicides. They need their own space. Some commit suicide because they don’t get mental help or dealing with crowded houses when they are adults witout jobs in a lot of cases. Too many are iving with parents and older parents who can’t deal with the mental issues. Most of the time men are thrown out from relationships by common law wives becasue theis is no marriage counsellors.

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