Qikiqtani Inuit Association announces $1.8M for mental wellness during the pandemic

“These funds will assist non-profits and hamlets to deliver programs that can help Inuit better cope with the stress of the pandemic”

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association says that it will distribute $1.8 million in federal funding to support the work of the Ilisaqsivik Society, the YWCA Agvik, the Uqutaq Society, the Tukisigiarvik Society, Qikiqtani hamlet recreation departments and the previously announced Qikiqtani Family Support Initiative. (Image courtesy of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association)

By Nunatsiaq News

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association says it will distribute $1.8 million in federal funds to mental wellness initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a strain on the mental well-being of Inuit,” said QIA President P.J. Akeeagok in a news release on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

“These funds will assist non-profits and hamlets to deliver programs that can help Inuit better cope with the stress of the pandemic.”

The money will support the following projects:

  • The Ilisaqsivik Society, which promotes community wellness in Clyde River, will receive $517,000 to increase Inuit-led mental health and wellness capacity in the Qikiqtani region.
  • The YWCA Agvvik, which runs a women’s shelter in Iqaluit and one in Apex, will receive $182,000 to fund a sewing program for women in the shelter, the hosting of storytelling events and traditional games, and additional support to manage COVID-related protocols.
  • The Tukisigiarvik Society, which operates a drop-in centre for disadvantaged residents of Iqaluit, will receive $62,000 to assist with programs on cabin building and kamik making.
  • The Uquutaq Society, which operates and manages men’s homeless shelters in Iqaluit, will receive $237,000 to bolster its programming, including on-the-land programs, counselling services and mental health training.

Laurel McCorriston, executive director of Uquutaq, said the society plans to partner with Ilisaqsivik to provide men in the shelter with more mental health services, including counselling from Inuit mental health workers.

“This is what we have heard the men say time and again, that they would prefer to deal with people who speak their language and are in their own culture,” McCorriston said.

Despite the lockdown, McCorriston said Uquutaq plans to put the funding to use right away by providing mental health training to their client service workers virtually and modifying on-the-land programs to comply with public health guidelines.

The Uquutaq shelter moved into new buildings at the end of October, which will make sanitizing the facility and monitoring those entering the building easier, McCorriston said.

The sum of $425,000 will be distributed to Qikiqtani hamlet recreation departments for youth mental wellness programming over the next several months, and $415,000 has gone towards the Qikiqtani Family Support Initiative, which was announced earlier this month.

The funding is part of a larger $82.5-million federal fund for mental health services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis, which was announced last August.

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, Nov. 17, the QIA announced that its staff will work from home until December 2, as mandated by the Government of Nunavut.

All QIA non-essential programs such as its Qikiqtani cultural activities program, the Qikiqtani skills and training for employment partnership, the Ilagiiktunut Nunalinnullu Pivalliajutisait Kiinaujat, and the bereavement and compassionate travel programs will be suspended.

For more information, QIA can be reached by email or by calling 867-975-8383 and leaving a voicemail message.

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