Nunavik wants to see more “intergenerational” homes built
"We’d like to see this for the comfort of our elders"
KUUJJUAQ — Nunavik’s elders want to see more intergenerational houses across the region — homes which they believe can offer them the right amount of support and security as they age.
Nunavik’s elder association plans to take that message to the Quebec government Sept. 11, as part of an international conference being held in Quebec City this week called Age-Friendly Cities.
Speaking in a video presented to the Kativik Regional Government regional council meeting Sept. 10 in Kuujjuaq, Salluit elder Elashuk Pauyngie makes an argument for more of the units, which are built as separate, secure apartments attached to a family home.
“Our elders are growing in numbers,” Pauyungie said in Inuktitut. “Some elders who are healthy would like their freedom and they need our support.
“We’d like to see this for the comfort of our elders, so that they are at peace and so they are not frightened by their relatives,” she said.
The units allow for autonomous single elders or couples to have personal and secure living space (they can lock the door from inside their unit), while being in close reach of family.
The units differ from the region’s assisted living centres, which offer specialized care as well as communal living areas.
The first of Nunavik’s five existing intergenerational homes was built in Kuujjuaraapik in 2009. The units, designed by Nunavik elders, consist of a bedroom, bathroom and joint kitchen and living room, linked by a door to the larger two-bedroom living space of a duplex unit.
Four more intergenerational units were built alongside new social housing units since 2009, in Salluit, Quaqtaq and Umiujaq, and, most recently, in Inukjuak.
Nunavik elders in Quebec City hope to convince Quebec’s health department to help the built 25 more over the next five years.
“It’s a good venue for them to tell [government officials] that this model is working, that we need more of this,” said Adel Yassa, the director of regional and local development at the KRG.
But 25 new units would come with a hefty price tag — the most recent intergenerational home built in Inukjuak cost $178,000 to construct.
The design also needs some revision, Yassa said. Already, a fenced balcony has been added to the original design, he said, while stoves in any new units will have raised burners, rather than smooth glass surfaces which are easier to see when they are turned on.
KRG regional councillor Jennifer Watkins, who also works with the Nunavik regional board of health and social services, says the housing units compliment work the board has done to promote elders’ well-being, particularly in protecting elders against potential abuse.
The health board has recently hired a new staffer to develop its own violence against elders prevention program.