Nunavut’s most inclusive caterer offers April 10 community dinner
“They bring ridiculously amazing tasty food to Iqaluit"
One of Iqaluit’s hottest new caterers is putting on a community dinner April 10 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Toonik Tyme festival now underway in the city.
And in doing so, they’re making the territory’s capital of Iqaluit a more inclusive — and delicious — place to be.
The Inclusion Café, a project started by the Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtiit Society in the spring of 2014, will host the dinner at Iqaluit’s Qayuqtuvik Society Soup Kitchen.
“The contracts have been pouring in, and we haven’t even been really trying,” Wendy Ireland, the executive director of the disabilities society told Nunatsiaq News at a media event at the soup kitchen April 7.
The event showcased gourmet treats prepared by staff of the café. These included chocolate-orange date squares and rosemary-oatmeal shortbread cookies.
The café employs about 10 people who might not necessarily identify as having a disability, Ireland said.
“We have some folks who identify as having intellectual disabilities, some folks who don’t have any disability, some folks who might have autism or something similar. And then we just recently partnered with Akausisarvik [Mental Health Treatment Centre], so we have four new volunteers who identify as having a mental health issue.”
Inclusion Café employees receive a full wage, she added.
“Our employees are full employees. They can do the work, so it doesn’t make sense to have a tiered system where somebody living with an intellectual disability, for example, or a mental health issue would do the same work, but wouldn’t get the same pay as someone without a disability,” she said.
During a short speech at the media event, Ireland spoke of the empowerment felt by staff receiving a pay check and the fun they have cooking, serving and engaging with people.
“They bring ridiculously amazing tasty food to Iqaluit.”
Organizers of the café, which has a steering committee of five volunteers, have high hopes for the future, such as establishing the café as a cooperative and hiring a coordinator to bring the café to the next level as a full-fledged business.
But for now, committee member Nalini Vaddapalli told Nunatsiaq News the café appreciates the warm community response.
“The community has welcomed us with open arms, much more so than we had anticipated. Definitely, you’ll be seeing and hearing much more about us,” Vaddapalli said.
Limited tickets are still available for the dinner, which starts at 5:30 p.m. April 10 and will include live drum dancing and throat singing performances.
The menu for the dinner features a cream of cauliflower and cheddar soup as an appetizer, a choice of char cakes with mango salsa or stuffed cannelloni pasta as an entrée and a large dessert sampler tray.
Tickets cost $30 and can be purchased by contacting Ireland at email@example.com, 979-2228 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org