The Ilitaqsiniq: Nunavut Literacy Council’s new regional home in Rankin Inlet was unveiled this past month, dedicated to one of the council’s most dedicated members, Quluaq Pilakapsi.

Ilitaqsiniq: Nunavut Literacy Council members, from left, Aliisa Autut, Kelly Lindell, Quluaq Pilakapsi, Adriana Kusugak, Panikuluk Kabluitok and Amy Aingidlik stand proudly in front of the council’s new home named after Quluaq Pilakapsi on Rankin Inlet on Feb. 9, 2021.<BR>photo courtesy Jovette Kurok

The council’s Adriana Kusugak said Ilitaqsiniq received a donation from Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM) when the company was celebrating the first pour at its Meliadine gold mine in 2019.

She said the donation was to support Ilitaqsiniq: Nunavut Literacy Council in its purchase of a building to house its operations in the Kivalliq region.

“When we purchased the house, our board decided to name it the Quluaq building after Quluaq Pilakapsi,” said Kusugak.

“She was a long-time employee of the Nunavut Literacy Council and, even in her retirement, she continues to work for us on a project basis and is currently our Elder for the Pinnguaqpa program.

“She’s always been so supportive of the Nunavut Literacy Council that the board wanted to honour her, her work and her continued legacy within the organization.

“So they found it fitting that the building be named after her.”

Kusugak said this is something everyone in the organization is really proud of — that Pilakapsi is able to still be here and celebrate the acknowledgment of her and her contributions with them.

She said Pilakapsi is non-stop, and it’s something really special to see her still working for the council to this day, even in her retirement.

“A big time thank you to AEM for the contribution. They didn’t pay the full cost of the building, but they gave us the means to be able to purchase the house and take care of the remainder of the mortgage on it.

“Having the building now provides us with some stability and consistency as an organization by having a home base.

“As most people know, Ilitaqsiniq is continuing to grow and expand its programming by getting into new communities and offering new programs.

“And, it’s important as we continue to grow that we also build those assets up because we’re very much at the mercy of what communities have in terms of infrastructure to support our programs.”

Kusugak said, as such, the council board sees acquisition as an area it would very much like to continue to grow in, to have some buildings and spaces Ilitaqsiniq can call its own on a long-term basis so that it can continue to offer the innovative programs it does.

She said the problem is not unique to Ilitaqsiniq, as the lack of existing infrastructure is a problem right across Nunavut.

“We’re a not-for-profit organization that’s trying to do as much as we can but, like I said, we almost always find ourselves at the mercy of what is available in the different communities.

“We did want to make the unveiling of the building a big day in the community but, due to Covid, we kept having to put it off and put it off until finally we just decided we wanted to hang the sign and celebrate her, so we went ahead and did that without the big celebration.

“That was unfortunate because we really wanted to share that with the community but, due to Covid regulations, we could only have our own internal celebration.”

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