Baker Lake is one of four communities identified in the territory that could see the future construction of a community wellness hub.
“Through all of our community conversations and gatherings, they’re very clear they don’t have enough spaces to be able to run the wellness programs they want to run,” said Lindsay Turner, director of the Government of Nunavut’s poverty reduction division, on her way home from a consultation trip to Baker Lake late February.
It’s part of the goals of the Makimaniq Plan 2, developed between the GN and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., with early work also going on to determine similar feasibility in Arctic Bay, Kinngait and Kugluktuk.
“It all comes down to budget questions,” said Turner. “Construction is not cheap, but the goal would be to build one in each of those four communities. The eventual big dream one day would be to have one in every community, but starting with these four.”
In Baker Lake, Turner and her team asked the community about their vision and ideas for what a community wellness hub would look like – from programs like private counselling rooms to tool-making shops, cold porches for working with skins and more. From there, Turner can start to develop the picture of what the actual facility would need to include to facilitate that.
“We heard that they are keen to have a place where they could gather,” she said. “I heard very strongly they wanted a place where Elders could come together.”
Inuit have always helped each other out, said Turner, and creating a gathering spot for the community can help connect people to find ways to help each other. Also, the hub could act as a respite for people dealing with overcrowding or needing time alone.
“We see there’s such a richness in programs and ideas and talent in communities,” said Turner, adding that the goal with the hubs is to equip people with the tools to pursue those ideas.
The first consultation went well and won’t be the last. The project is in its early stages and Turner plans to return to Baker Lake for another round of examining priorities and determining what’s feasible and what isn’t.
“To get to the ribbon cutting ceremony, it is a long process,” she said. “We’re in the very early stages. It could be five, six, seven years by the time you do all the design, the sealift ordering, the land preparation, the construction.”