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Federal government announces $7.2 million to go toward Inuusirvik Community Wellness Centre construction

New funding for the construction of Iqaluit’s Innusirvik Community Wellness Hub was revealed on Nov. 16 at the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre.
Federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett, left, and Gwen Akearok, executive and scientific director of the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre take a picture with a model of the planned Inuusirvik Community Wellness Centre. Trevor Wright/NNSL photo

New funding for the construction of Iqaluit’s Innusirvik Community Wellness Hub was revealed on Nov. 16 at the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre.

More than $7.2 million for the hub was announced by Carolyn Bennett, the federal Mental Health and Addictions Minister.

The new building, which is currently under construction, will see spaces made available to community non-profit organizations in Iqaluit. The plan is to introduce areas where Iqaluimmiut can access early learning language/cultural programs, child-rearing/parenting, land-based programs for youth, literacy programs, drop-in public health and health promotion campaigns, as well as community-led initiatives.

“It is about working for our partners and particularly Inuit governments, organizations, communities. This is about building the future we want,” said Bennett.

The new centre will provide a home for Qaujigiartiit, the Ilisaqsivik Society and the Tasiuqtigiit Hand-in-Hand Society.

“It is exciting to see community supports and services will be provided by different organizations under one roof to Nunavummiut family, youth and seniors experiencing poverty,” Bennett added.

The announcement was even more exciting for the Qauigiartiit board, who have been working for six years toward this goal of seeking land and funding for Innusirvik.

“Six years ago, we began to actively seek land and funding to create the space,” said Gwen Akearok, executive and scientific director of Qaujigiartiit. “As a non-profit organization we of course have experience numerous setbacks to create something we know is needed by our community. This funding - has been a tremendous and significant in realizing our collective vision and doing so in a way that’s sustainable and mindful of our environment in climate change.”

Qaujigiartiit hopes to open the hub in September 2023.

“This is very significant as a non-profit organization. The hub provides space to existing community-serving non-profits that already have funding to provide community services. Instead of fighting over a school gym or whatever space there is available in the community, there’s a dedicated space,” said Akearok.

“Supporting projects like these is essential to fostering better health outcomes, including positive mental health and well-being,” added Bennett.

The total cost of the hub’s construction is $12.5 million. Qaujigiartiit still needs about $1.5 million to reach its goal following the funding announcement.

“This building has a been a labour of love for all of us and has been made possible by all the support and care we received from Iqalummiut over several years,” said Akearok. “In turn, we hope to demonstrate that this initiative will stabilize the non-profit sector, which excels in elevating pathways to well-being into the lives of the families, children and grandchildren we all serve.”