Queer Inuit youth ‘can be themselves’ at Ottawa drop-in space

Grand opening of Arsaniq program welcomes guests with country food, community support

Organizers and supporters of the Arsaniq drop-in centre celebrated the opening of the program, designed for queer Inuit youth in Ottawa, at an event on Friday at the Bronson centre. From left: Anika d’Argencourt, Reese Lucassie, Katia d’Argencourt, Chris Church (sitting), Mikka Komatsiutikiak, Aly Schamerhorn and Jennifer Chafe. (Photo by Madalyn Howitt)

By Madalyn Howitt

A new drop-in program for queer Inuit youth in Ottawa celebrated its grand opening Friday with a country food buffet and an inclusive space.

Arsaniq is a program run by Ontario-based organization Tungasuvvingat Inuit designed for youth who identify as 2SLGBTQ+. The 2S stands for “two-spirit,” a term that’s specific to queer Indigenous identities. The + includes pansexual, intersex, asexual, and other identities.

Guests at the inaugural event were treated to a throat singing performance, a buffet of snacks, rainbow cookies, dried caribou, frozen caribou and candied Arctic char.

Most important, though, the space served as a place “where people can just be themselves,” said program organizer Jennifer Chafe.

Youth who attend will have the chance to connect with others in the queer community and can take part in activities ranging from practising therapeutic arts to learning how to be creative with makeup to playing traditional Inuit games, Chafe said.

Friday’s event was a chance for people to say hello, make new friends and meet the organizers, she said.

The Arsaniq drop-in space will be open Friday afternoons in room 222 of the Bronson Centre from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

The program will cater to youth in different age groups on a rotating basis, starting with youth ages 12 to 18 on Dec. 2, those between the ages of 19 to 25 on Dec. 9, then back to youth aged 12 to 18 on Dec. 16.

The final program of the year will be held Dec. 23, but organizers say they hope to extend the program into the new year if funding permits.

Anyone interested in learning more about the space can email organizer Mikka Komatsiutikiak at mk*************@ti*******.ca

See below for some more photos of Friday’s event.


  • Anika d’Argencourt (left) and Mikka Komatsiutikiak prepare some Arctic char and caribou for the grand opening of the Arsaniq drop-in space at the Bronson Centre, a weekly program for Inuit youth in Ottawa who identify as 2SLGBTQ+. (Photo by Madalyn Howitt)
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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by 867 on

    This might be one of those articles where it’s best to turn off commenting.

    • Posted by Sanctimonious on

      And yet the only comment here is from you, how weird is that?

      • Posted by 867 on

        Because articles like this are often full of borderline hatred. I’m guessing the nunatsiaq gatekeepers are doing their best keeping the comment section clean this time around.

    • Posted by SARCASM on

      Can t wait till humanity becomes one big happy family

  2. Posted by RU an Ally? on

    Thank you for running this story, Nunatsiaq!

    You are wonderful allies. Going forward would you consider placing the pronouns of your journalists beside their names? I think that would be a great gesture and fantastic way to demonstrate inclusivity!

  3. Posted by Agreeeed 100% (zhe/zwi) on

    I want to see this too! Please make this happen, Nunatsiaq! Let’s be inclusive and make this a safe space!

    • Posted by No One’s Business on

      If a person wants to volunteer pronouns that is fine.

      Asking a person for pronouns, as has happened some in American workplaces, or ‘encouraging’ employees to give them during introductions at the beginning of meetings is a form of gender violence
      It is no different than going to a person and saying “What are you?” That is none of your concern unless I choose to tell you.

      If NN took that approach they open themselves to all sorts of legal issues.

  4. Posted by C. M. on

    A reason for concern farmland being held solely as an investment.

    Free up one but clamp down elsewhere – our dear CBC is blocking any and all comments such as this one from people who are not toeing a pro war line in Europe. Yeah for our rights.

  5. Posted by Some thoughts on

    I understand that people identifying their pronouns is intended to be affirming for some individuals and to destigmatize people who are other than male or female. Requiring people to identify their pronouns is, however, deeply disturbing for some people because of past and ongoing discrimination based on gender, sex, race, place of origin etc. People have decried that their exotic names on resumes have had an impact on whether they get hired just because of one of their personal characteristics, women are still discriminated against in many sectors just because they are recognized as women, and we have the history of people in Nazi Germany who had to identify their personal ethnocultural characteristics publicly and hopefully we all still know what happened with that. Some people want their humanity to be respected despite their sex, gender, age, ethnic, cultural etc background/identity. Forcing people to identify their gender is making people who are still subject to discrimination to be further vulnerable (thinking of women in particular in the context of gender), and opens the door to other types of classifications of people that are problematic or abhorrent. I get that gender pronoun identification is intended to be affirming and not intended to lead to discrimination, but humans have in many instances had on the surface or truly well meaning intentions that have had devastating consequences. If I am missing something, I am happy to hear about it.


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