In May, the Iqaluit Elders Home had to close down due to a staff member testing positive for Covid-19. As a result, two residents were sent elsewhere within Nunavut while four others were sent to Ottawa’s Embassy West seniors home.

The Iqaluit Elders Home has since remained closed with its phone line disconnected. Then-Health minister Lorne Kusugak said much needed renovations were taking place at the facility.

In October former cabinet minister Manitok Thompson, along with others, started a petition to build an Elder care home in each community and to generally provide better care to seniors in the territory.

“We cannot ignore the Elders anymore. We cannot ignore them and just put them away in Ottawa,” said Thompson to Kivalliq News.

Most recently, Nunavut MP Lori Idlout asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Parliament to take action and invest in Nunavut’s Elders with the same message as Thompson’s petition.

“Mister Speaker, our Elders in Nunavut are being exiled from their families, from their homeland and from their communities because they cannot access care in the territory,” said Idlout.

“The Elder care homes have been full to capacity since 2017. We have seen in this House countless recommendations and promises made, but we’ve seen little to no action to help Elders and invest in Elders infrastructure in Nunavut.

“Will the Prime Minister respect Elders in Nunavut and the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee and follow though on accelerating construction on long-term care facilities and seniors homes in Nunavut?”

In Thompson’s online petition Elder Homes in each Nunavut community, nearly 20,000 people have put their signatures forward toward supporting senior care in the territory.

In an email to Nunavut News, the Department of Health stated ongoing renovations at the Elders Home are expected to be completed by mid-December. Delays in reopening the Elders Home have been attributed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to modernize the facility and the delivery of supplies.

Pimaksilirvik Corporation will be taking on the contract for the facility. The date the facility will actually be reopened will be dependent on Pimaksilirvik being able to hire sufficient staff.

Elders who have been sent down south will be given the option to return to Iqaluit, some returns will also be based on the complexity of care needed.

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