Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit April 13, 2017 - 4:20 pm

Nunavut capital commits more than $1 million to city shelters

“It's a start... I’m happy with the way things are progressing”

STEVE DUCHARME
Iqaluit Coun. Joanasie Akumalik says he's pleased that councillors are committing more than a million dollars over five years to the men's and women's shelters in Iqaluit. (FILE PHOTO)
Iqaluit Coun. Joanasie Akumalik says he's pleased that councillors are committing more than a million dollars over five years to the men's and women's shelters in Iqaluit. (FILE PHOTO)
Doug Cox, manager of the Iqaluit men's shelter's, stands in front of the city's shelter in January. Cox has said in the past that it's not necessarily money but space the shelter needs since it's chronically overcrowded. (FILE PHOTO)
Doug Cox, manager of the Iqaluit men's shelter's, stands in front of the city's shelter in January. Cox has said in the past that it's not necessarily money but space the shelter needs since it's chronically overcrowded. (FILE PHOTO)

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.

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(6) Comments:

#1. Posted by Question on April 13, 2017

Great to hear but foe a city that is broke and in debit where did they find the money?

#2. Posted by Answer on April 14, 2017

#1 They borrow it. Like every other government in the soon to be bankrupt western world.

#3. Posted by good news on April 14, 2017

very good news, good people working together

#4. Posted by Bill Riddell on April 15, 2017

I certainly commend the City for this support to people who are homeless and some even for a short time as well as those who are homeless for longer periods of time.  As many people in Iqaluit know, my late wife Jan and I were very involved for years in trying to resolve this serious problem.  Eventually we lost the funding for the men’s shelter but were able to get a building for young people called the Youth Cottage.  The federal government did not live up to it’s responsibility to fund that program which was funneled through the City and so the City could not fund it. We had to close that program but kept the building going and provided shelter for young couples and families.  That building was trashed and we had to close the doors and give up.  It is still there and the taxes for the building to the city were not paid so, my guess is that the city ownes the building and with a bit of work, it can still be used for homeless programming.

#5. Posted by Bill Riddell on April 15, 2017

I did not have enough space to complete my comments.  I think the previous youth cottage can be fixed up and used for couples and their children for temporary shelter or for a youth cottage (young men and women who need help and shelter until they get their lives together.  It was a very successful program and well worth it.  Congratulations to the City of Iqaluit.  Please consider using the old Youth Cottage as part of this important initiative You own it because Jan and I and the other members of the Illitiit Society just could not keep it going. Wow, what a great decision.

#6. Posted by Alethea on April 20, 2017

Thank you Joanasie for pushing hard on this issue. I’m glad to see the shelters get more funding which is badly needed.

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