Nunavut capital commits more than $1 million to city shelters
“It's a start... I’m happy with the way things are progressing”
The City of Iqaluit followed through on promises to bolster support for the community’s shelters April 11, allocating more than a million dollars in funding spread out over the next five years.
Iqaluit’s men’s shelter will get access to $150,000 each year for the next five years through the city’s Community Wellness Plan, following an approved recommendation from the city’s Niksiit committee during a regular city council meeting, April 11.
Iqaluit’s Qimaavik women’s shelter—which serves mostly women fleeing abusive relationships—will also get more than $57,700 per year for the next five years under a similar arrangement.
Coun. Joanasie Akumalik banged his desk in support for the funding, as Coun. Terry Dobbin—filling in for absent Niksiit chair, Simon Nattaq—read out the recommendations.
“It’s a start,” Akumalik told Nunatsiaq News following the council meeting, where he told council, “I’m happy with the way things are progressing.”
Akumalik has criticized the city for what he considers inaction following a visit by councillors to the men’s shelter earlier this year and new commitments promised to help the facility.
The men and women’s shelters will take up about 54 per cent of the Community Wellness Plan’s funding for 2017 which will distribute more than $384,000 to local projects this year.
The shelter said it will use the money to offer additional support for its guests such as life skill programs, mental health support and registration for social housing and government identification, according to proposals made in its Niksiit submissions.
The shelter also said it wants to remain open until 11:30 a.m., allowing the space to be used to host upcoming programs.
Both local shelters will need to submit detailed budgets to the city for how they plan to use the money.
Support for Iqaluit’s men’s shelter has risen since the death of Jake Angurasak, a regular user of the facility who was reported missing early last December.
Before that, another shelter regular and well-known carver, Lucassie Etungat, disappeared without a trace in September.
That was preceded by the disappearance of Ben Palluq, another homeless man, in 2014. Palluq was never found.
The series of tragedies drove Iqalungmiut to attend in record numbers the January annual general meeting of the Uquutaq Society, responsible for the operations of the men’s shelter.
The women’s shelter is in no less dire need of support.
According to details in the Niksiit recommendation, the women’s shelter is depending on funding from the city to make repairs, hire more staff and to keep its doors open.
“The funding would not only help women, but also women and children, when they are in need of a place to go,” the Niksiit recommendation said.
While Akumalik credited council for allocating the additional funding, the councillor pushed for the city to meet with the Government of Nunavut to possibly take possession of the old mental health building—now vacant and near the Qikiqtani General Hospital—for use as a homeless shelter.
“I strongly urge the mayor to deal with that by way of letter or meeting with the minister [of health],” Akumalik said.