Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 23, 2016 - 8:30 am

Nunavut government to close Iqaluit youth home at month’s end

GN says Illagiitugut home for youth may re-open in four to six months, if they can find a contractor

THOMAS ROHNER
The Illagiitugut Group Home will shut its doors Sept. 30 and the Government of Nunavut will send its young clients off to live at other places, possibly in southern Canada. The GN's contract with the current service provider, Ivik Enterprises Ltd., is set to expire at the end of this month. No contractors responded to a request for proposals that the GN issued this past summer. After re-issuing the RFP, the GN received some bids by Sept. 15, but they say the centre is unlikely to re-open for at least four to six months. Ivik Enterprises Ltd. has declined comment. (FILE PHOTO)
The Illagiitugut Group Home will shut its doors Sept. 30 and the Government of Nunavut will send its young clients off to live at other places, possibly in southern Canada. The GN's contract with the current service provider, Ivik Enterprises Ltd., is set to expire at the end of this month. No contractors responded to a request for proposals that the GN issued this past summer. After re-issuing the RFP, the GN received some bids by Sept. 15, but they say the centre is unlikely to re-open for at least four to six months. Ivik Enterprises Ltd. has declined comment. (FILE PHOTO)

While many Nunavummiut worry about the shortage of social and family services in the territory, a facility in Iqaluit that offers such a service for youth will close Sept. 30.

Iqaluit’s Illagiitugut Group Home for youth will shut down on that date, though the Government of Nunavut said it hopes the closure is temporary.

“The contract with the current service provider… is set to expire Sept. 30,” said a written statement from the Department of Family Services to Nunatsiaq News on Sept. 22.

The department posted a request for proposals for a new service provider this past summer, but received no submissions, the GN statement said.

Another request for proposal, which closed Sept. 15, did result in an unspecified number of bids, which the department said it’s currently reviewing.

Services at the Illagiitugut Group Home should resume within the next four to six months, the statement said.

There are currently only three youth living at the eight-bed, all-female facility, the department said.

Those youth, whom the statement said have been “consulted,” will be placed in “alternate residential arrangements… to ensure the youth seamlessly transition to appropriate in-territory accommodations and care.”

The Illagiitugut Group Home, in existence since the late 1980s, shifted its focus in 2014 away from young children and towards youth.

That change prompted complaints from territorial and municipal politicians.

That included complaints that Coun. Terry Dobbin made in March 2014.

Currently, the home provides 24-hour residential care, “including specialized programming and treatment services to female adolescent residents under the age of 18,” family services said.

The home often houses those in foster care not yet placed in a permanent home.

A three-part series run by Nunatsiaq News earlier this year revealed that half of all Inuit foster children live in non-Inuit homes, mostly in southern Canada.

Despite that, the Department of Family Services did not say why only three of eight beds are currently being used at the home.

Earlier this year, Illagiitugut hosted an advocacy workshop for young Nunavut women who grew up in foster care.

The workshop was aimed at training the young women to advocate for improvements to the territorial and federal foster care system.

That effort doesn’t seem to have helped the Illagiitugut home stay open.

Several sources with knowledge of the issue, when contacted by Nunatsiaq News, independently confirmed the home’s closure before the Department of Family Services responded to our request for information.

Many of those sources expressed dismay at the lack of information and notice of the home’s closure.

Ivik Enterprises, a B.C.-based company that will run the home on contract from the Department of Family Services until Sept. 30, declined to comment.

The group home itself issued a one-sentence response: “We are dismayed at the apparent displacement of our clients.”

Nunavut’s representative for Children and Youth, Sherry McNeil-Mulak, provided Nunatsiaq News with a written statement on Sept. 21.

In part, McNeil-Mulak said her office does not have all the facts and has reached out to the Department of Family Services for more information.

“It is clear that services for children and youth in Nunavut are lacking. Therefore, the potential closure of this facility is concerning,” McNeil-Mulak said.

One source familiar with the situation said staff have already been given notice that their employment at the group home is ending.

After that, clients will either be sent into foster care down south or into another residential care facility, the source said.

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