In defence of the Pairijait Tigumivik society
“The staff at the boarding home have been effective, polite and honest”
I do not know about the contracts and structures and situations at the Tammaativvik boarding home, but I can tell you what I have seen on a first-hand basis, as I have provided relief beds for the hugely overcrowded situation for medical travellers.
I have been completely impressed by two things:
1. We can see that the building was operated by Inuit employees in a way that made it feel like a welcoming home-away-from-home for people who came from all over Nunavut, and it was a place where people really wanted to stay.
2. I watched the people who work there for the society work their fingers to the bone day after day after day, in very stressful and completely unpredictable circumstances, where many others would not last a week.
In my talks with the medical travellers who were staying at my bed and breakfast, I could see that nursing stations across Nunavut were sending people who arrived here in Iqaluit without warning for many legitimate and compelling medical reasons.
Some of my guests would tell me that they are reluctant to come, to even a welcoming space, because they would rather be in the Inuit hospitality of the boarding home, even if it meant sleeping on the floor.
This Pairijait Tigumivik society’s operation really showed Inuit capacity put to the test and succeeding. They worked with tenacity and good humour day after day, week after week, in circumstances that would drive most southerners to quit in a moment. This was truly a case which beautifully demonstrated the reality of the Inuit employment we all envision for this territory.
I see the Department of Health using this as an excuse to deflect from the situation that the department has simply not supplied enough beds to the people they knew were flooding into Iqaluit for years and years.
It is entirely to the society’s credit that they have succeeded in a close to impossible task over all that time.
I have had dramatic crises and drunken clients, but every time the staff at the boarding home have been effective, polite and honest, dealing with problems, yes, but being completely real and not pretending that these crises in our communities can be ignored or managed out of existence. I have really admired them.
The society should get a prize for their services. By importing any operation to take over at this point you are losing the home, the feeling and the amazing spirit of that operation. Anyone not rooted in commitment to communities would not have been able to do this task in these circumstances.
The department should be brave and face the issues in the way that the society has been doing for years. The chaos and shortages are the GN’s fault and not on the boarding home.
Rannva Erlingsdóttir Simonsen
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