Iqaluit’s Tammaativvik Boarding Home “is not at all friendly or comfortable,” according to what Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA Cathy Towtongie is hearing from her constituents.
“The staff at the front desk are not from the North and do not speak Inuktitut. Their approach is often intimidating and my constituents are frightened to ask for help or support,” said Towtongie, who devoted her Sept. 13 MLA’s statement to the issue in the legislative assembly.
She noted that more Kivalliq medical patients have been staying at Tammaativvik over the past year due to COVID-19 travel restrictions that curbed many Manitoba medical trips.
Towtongie said some constituents have asked if they could stay with her in Iqaluit while she’s there tending to territorial government matters.
“It is not possible for me to host them. I wish I could. I encourage the minister of Health and his staff to work closely with the contractors operating the Tammaativvik Boarding Home and ensure that services are delivered in a culturally acceptable manner,” she said. “When complaints have been raised by my colleagues in this House, the minister of Health in the past always stated that he would have to speak with the contractor to resolve issues … it is not clear what steps the contractor takes to ensure a safe and welcoming environment that is open and accessible to Inuit and especially those whose preferred language is Inuktitut.”
When issues surrounding the boarding home were raised in September 2020, then-health minister George Hickes said the number of complaints about service had fallen “dramatically” over the past couple of years.
Current Health Minister Lorne Kusugak told Towtongie that the vast majority of people he speaks to about Tammaativvik enjoy their stay at the facility.
“I personally have gone there on many occasions unannounced and a majority of the people who stay there have had very
pleasant experiences and some of them do not,” he said. “In both instances, when I am notified of an unpleasant visit and a pleasant visit, I share them with our patient relations department.”