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Disabilities Society teams up with national non-profit on caregiving needs in Nunavut

The Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaq Society (NDMS) is teaming up with the newly established Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence (CCCE) on mapping out Nunavut’s home and family caregiving needs.
CCCE executive director Liv Mendelsohn said there’s an information gap when it comes to data about Nunavut caregivers and caregiving practices. Photo courtesy of Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence

The Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaq Society (NDMS) is teaming up with the newly established Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence (CCCE) on mapping out Nunavut’s home and family caregiving needs.

The organizations hope this initiative will illuminate the state of home caregiver needs in the territory, to both record the current state of caregiving and to highlight any existing gaps. This will help lay the groundwork for seeing what programs and supports are needed for those who need caregivers, such those with disabilities and Elders.

CCCE’s goal is to support caregivers and providers in Canada with a focus on under-served communities. When looking for what information was available with regards to caregiving in the territory, they came up empty-handed.

“We realized pretty quickly that there hasn’t been a lot of data about the needs of Nunavut,” said Liv Mendelsohn, executive director for the CCCE.

Providing for family and community is a part of Inuit societial values, added Nicole Diakite, executive director at NDMS which makes this all the more important.

“(NDMS’s) ultimate goal is to support individuals who have disabilities to live their own lives the way the want to live their lives, to support inclusion and accessibility in all aspects of life. Whether that means remaining in their home community and providing capacity building for families,” said Diakite, and this project falls in line with that goal.

This is a part of a larger research project NDMS is doing which will take them to all 25 communities for consultations over the next few years.

“We utilize an Indigenous research methodology that was actually created in Nunavut by (Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre), community members and Elders. It incorporates sharing circles,” Diakite explains.

The first of these sharing circles will begin this June. They will last about three to four hours in length and food will be available. NDMS is currently in the process of connecting with community representatives in organizing these gatherings and speaking to community members. They hope to reach eight communities during this first round of sharing circles.

“Our focus is on community members who take on the role of caregiver,” said Diakite, “this project can point to resources that are lacking from a caregiver perspective.”

Diakite said NDMS hopes to complete the sharing circle project by April 2024.

NDMS is the territory’s only cross-disability organization, so it was important for CCCE to partner up with them on this project.

These sharing circles will be essential for collecting information the NDMS and the CCCE hope to use to come up with the appropriate interventions in family caregiving. The two groups also hope governments and organizations will use the information collected to inform policy and to provide support to families where needed.

“There’s really no academic literature or body of knowledge about caregiving or disabilities in Nunavut. It’s a significant gap that we’ve encountered since opening in 1999,” said Diakite. Noting this year’s disabilities survey by Statistics Canada will be one of the territory’s first.

Diakite adds finding resources for family caregivers reduces the need for external supports while promoting family development.

“This is just the beginning. We’re excited to engage with partners and stakeholders and with the government to see the data and the recommendations really come to life,” said Mendelsohn.