Puvirnituq mental health centre to be rebuilt next year after fatal fire

Aaniavituqarq Crisis Centre damaged in October blaze; hospital patient transit area serving as temporary home for clients

The Puvirnituq hospital patient transit area, pictured here, is serving as the temporary home for the Aaniavituqarq Centre. (Photo courtesy of Inuulitsivik Health Centre)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A Puvirnituq mental health crisis centre damaged by a fatal fire in October will be rebuilt next year.

Early on Oct. 25, a fire broke out at the Aaniavituqarq centre, which provides mental health and rehabilitation services for adults in the region.

At the time, police told Nunatsiaq News that a man in his 40s had died and a woman in her 40s was injured but expected to survive.

Lydia Shipaluk, 20, was charged with arson and appeared in court that same day.

The total cost of damage from the fire is still not known, but the centre can be rebuilt from what’s still standing, said Juliette Rolland, a senior adviser with Inuulitsivik Health Centre on Nunavik’s Hudson Bay coast.

“It is not a total loss, the outer shell of the building is intact including the roof and attic,” Rolland wrote in an email.

The inside of the building will need to be stripped and rebuilt, she said, starting in January. The next phase of rebuilding will begin around April.

“It is estimated that the work will be completed in the autumn of 2023, with the aim of moving the customers back in before the winter of 2023,” Rolland said.

She didn’t provide an estimate for what the rebuild will cost, saying an inventory is still being carried out of what needs to be replaced.

Immediately after the fire, the centre’s clients and services were forced to relocate to other temporary locations in Puvirnituq.

They have since been moved to the patient transit area at the Puvirnituq hospital, where they will remain until Aaniavituqarq is ready to reopen.

“The clients seem happy and satisfied with their new place since they’ve moved in,” Rolland noted.

She said the hope is that Aaniavituqarq will come back stronger than before.

In addition to a newly repaired building, Rolland said media coverage of the fire prompted a company from the south to buy a snowmobile and sled for Aaniavituqarq, which clients will be able to use to participate in land-based activities.

“The facility provided everything our residents needed to meet their needs,” she said.

“We are hoping that different types of facilities will be built to better accommodate the different needs of residents of Nunavik so as to not have them go south for placement care.”

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