Clyde River’s Illisaqsivik is stepping up to the plate for the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ilisaqsivik, a community-based Inuit organization, continues to run a lot its programs remotely despite the challenges.
The Breakfast program, Elders’ program, Moms and Tots program, After-school program and Prenatal Nutrition program, are all still available for the community.
Every Wednesday and Thursday, Ilisaqsivik staff prepare food hampers for each of these programs. Every Friday, a week’s worth of food is either picked up or delivered depending on the program. The food hampers for all programs, except the breakfast program, are delivered to homes while adhering to social distancing protocols.
The breakfast hampers are picked up by students at Quluaq School. The funding for the breakfast program is presently coming from the Department of Health, said Ilisaqsivik’s Executive Director Malcolm Ranta.
But according to Ranta, it is not enough.
The funds are beginning to dry up because of the increase in costs for feeding more students than usual. Ranta said during school about 150 students would come for breakfast. Now staff is making food hampers for 350 students to take home.
Besides running these programs, Ilisaqsivik staff is busy implementing other initiatives as a response to Covid-19. Ilisaqsivik has started a community based Covid-19 program, which includes an online survey was launched on April 20 to inquire about what sources community members are using to obtain information about the disease.
“We’re really curious in Clyde River (to determine) where people are getting their information on Covid-19 from. What is their knowledge of Covid-19?” said Ranta.
The survey will “help us adapt our programming,” explained Ranta, adding the information will better help to support the community.
The Ask and Offer program is another initiative being undertaken by the Inuit organization, aiming to obtain health-related information about each household in the community.
Questions related to the number of people and Elders living in each home, and whether anyone has a history of TB, pneumonia or a comprised immune system will be asked, explained Ranta, noting the information will be gathered remotely by phone.
“We’re hoping to create a community map where we can stratify the risk of homes. So we know the most vulnerable homes and the least vulnerable homes,” he said.
Ranta believes this information will help to distribute resources better within the community. Presently, all homes are receiving the exact same amount of cleaning supplies and food, said the executive director.
“We know that there are homes that need more support than other homes. And so we think with this information, we’re going to be able to better target the resources that are coming into the community,” Ranta explained.
Ilisaqsivik is also running daily events called Clyde River Community Stay at Home Games. These include window decorating competitions, mask decorating competitions and storytelling games. The aim of the games is to encourage family to do activities together at home, said Ranta.
The organization’s counsellors are noticing an increase in suicidal thoughts, addiction relapses and domestic violence among their clients.
“And a lot of it is relating to being confined in the home. So we’re trying to do other activities that promote families doing things together, trying to improve that cohesion,” he said.
Counsellors are also creating videos about how to deal with parenting, addiction and grieving during quarantine.
In general, according to Ranta, there is a lot of anxiety in the community about Covid-19. Elders are very concerned because they understand their vulnerability to coronavirus. Self-isolation is also really stressful for people since they are used to visiting extended family members, explained Ranta.
However, a lot of people are taking the social distancing protocols very seriously, said Ranta.
The hamlet has asked Ilisaqsivik for support with their “community pandemic preparedness plan,” said Ranta.
Nunavut News reached out the Hamlet of Clyde River but did not hear back by press time.
By the end of this week, Ilisaqsivik plans to launch a website, www.communityfirstcovid19.org, for community pandemic preparedness. The site will provide resources for any community interested in taking a community approach to planning for Covid-19 as opposed to a top-down government driven approach, explained Ranta.
“We want to put a plan in place so that we’re ready when a case (of Covid-19) happens … we can hit the ground running and we don’t have to plan. We don’t want to wait for a rapid response team to be sent in once a test comes back positive,” said Ranta.
To centralize all information of Covid-19 for Clyde River, Ilisaqsivik has created a Facebook page called Clyde River Preparedness, Covid-19.