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These hands were made for massaging

Ilitaqsiniq and Nunavut Wellness Academy partner on training course
Avery Connelly looks up while providing a massage to a Rankin Inlet resident. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

In an effort to develop skills and creating business opportunities, Ilitaqsiniq partnered with the Nunavut Wellness Academy for a three-week relaxation massage and nail technician program in Rankin Inlet.

“It’s something that hasn’t ever been offered before,” said Amber Irwin, project coordinator with Ilitaqsiniq. “That’s part of why we really wanted to bring this here and why we wanted to partner with the academy.”

The program taught seven students the fundamentals in massage and nail technician work, providing graduates with a certificate and a networking opportunity with the academy to bolster their career path in the future.

That’s what Wendy Makpah-Tatty did when she took a similar program by Ilitaqsiniq in Iqaluit, as she then went on to take the full registered massage therapist training with the Nunavut Wellness Academy and now works for the academy. Ilitaqsiniq brought her back as an instructor in the Rankin Inlet course.

“The community just loves her,” said Patience Sibanda, co-founder of the academy in Iqaluit, about Makpah-Tatty. “She gives some of the best massages.”

Sibanda and her husband were busy teaching participants for their three weeks in the Kivalliq capital. When she originally moved to Iqaluit to open a spa, Sibanda said she had a desire to train and hire people from within Nunavut rather than having to look south for staff. That’s where the connection with Ilitaqsiniq came in.

“It’s our dream and our vision as an academy to be able to go and offer this training throughout Nunavut,” said Sibanda, adding that there is a lot of talent in Rankin Inlet.

As of the end of the program, participants are now able to offer relaxation massages and nail services. They can achieve higher certification by joining the advanced training offered by the Nunavut Wellness Academy.

Adigii Nukapiak, one of the participants, said she was learning new things every day and enjoying the program.

“I like to learn new things and it’s good for the community because it’s something we don’t actually have for people to get in our hometown,” she said, adding that it was her dream to open a nail salon with hairdressing and a spa one day.

She was glad she took the leap to join the course.

“I just want to tell everybody, if you want to do something, try it,” said Nukapiak. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t know. Just keep trying and maybe you’ll get interested in it. Like myself, I didn’t know I could have patience for nails, but I really enjoy it and it’s something really new to me.”

Faith Voisey works the back of the head and neck during her training. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Krista Adigii Nukapiak said she surprised herself with just how patient she can be. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo