Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut January 10, 2013 - 9:06 am

Iqaluit City Council pledges support for the disabled

“It was pretty heartening they voted unanimously to support it”

SAMANTHA DAWSON
Wendy Ireland of the Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtit Society, at a workshop in Iqaluit this past March. (FILE PHOTO)
Wendy Ireland of the Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtit Society, at a workshop in Iqaluit this past March. (FILE PHOTO)

The City of Iqaluit is getting together with the Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtit Society to help address disability issues in Iqaluit after council voted unanimously to support the society.

The goal is to support another large community meeting in Iqaluit on disability issues, and for the disabilities society to meet with people face-to-face to talk about their experiences, said the society’s executive director, Wendy Ireland.

“It was pretty heartening they voted unanimously to support it,” she said.

What came out of last year’s meeting was that people with disabilities felt isolated, she added. 

“Either they don’t hear about it, or they’re not able to physically get there,” she said.

The new project, which would happen this coming March, would see people doing interviews with the Makinnasuaqtit Society to get a better idea of what changes are necessary.

City council has been “extraordinarily supportive” of the society so far, Ireland said.

“Today I wanted to invite the City of Iqaluit to become a partner for a project that is coming up in March of this year,” Ireland told city council. 

The society is going to be the Nunavut representative for the Canadian Association for Community Living, a post they’ve held for the past seven years. 

“We are hoping that the city would support us not monetarily,” she said.

Instead, Ireland asked for help in “finding participants to help people participate, whether that’s a transportation barrier or finding an accessible location to host meetings, maybe to help with promotion of the initiative.”

“We’re happy to administer the project it really wouldn’t cost you very much, except for some support with some of the work that you’re probably already doing,” she said.

So far, Ireland said the society has had success in reaching Iqalummiut who live with disabilities, but “we would really value the support of the council to reach further,” she said.
Coun. Simon Nattaq said there is still work to be done in Iqaluit to accommodate people living with disabilities.

“There are many facilities that are not accessible to disabled people, and some stores, you cannot go in some stores because there’s no access,” he said.

Nattaq said he wanted accessibility issues looked into as soon as possible.

“But as we all know there are barriers that we have to cross,” he said.

Councillor Kenny Bell asked Ireland about the time frame for the project and how many hours would be necessary.

“It really wouldn’t take a lot of hours,” Ireland said.

Those details are still being decided.

“The biggest part that I’m looking for is the support of the city and wouldn’t it be fantastic for the city to be hosting the event itself, Ireland said.

Coun. Terry Dobbin, who works at the children’s group home, was in full support of Ireland’s proposal.

“It’s near and dear to my heart because most of the kids there, once they turn 18, they’re sent South, and I’ve seen countless children go South and they’re just forgotten about,” he said.

“You have my full support, I would be willing to lobby for your organization,” Dobbin said.

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