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Elders deserve better compensation, Kaernerk insists

Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk is calling on the government to create paid elder adviser positions in the communities that will provide steady income.

Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk says cultural adviser jobs should be created for elders. photo courtesy of the legislative assembly

During a previous sitting of the legislative assembly, Kaernerk queried the minister of family services about raising the amount paid in elders’ pensions.

He said “our elders receive token acknowledgement and honorariums without the proper prestige of a respected retiree/employee.”

Elders are called upon when wildlife hearings are held, government events, student graduations, during court proceedings and to light oil lamps, Kaernerk provided as examples.

David Joanasie, minister of education as well as culture and heritage, said $400,000 of the Department of Culture and Heritage’s $7-million budget for grants and contributions is devoted to elders and youth programming. There’s an office in Iglulik for elders and youth workers, he added.

In addition, Nunavut’s district education authorities have appointed more than 200 elders to work with students in the territory’s schools, “and we would like to see more to increase that number,” said Joanasie.

“We are looking at different ways of getting elders involved on different government programs and services,” the minister said. “We are trying to work in partnership, in collaborating with other agencies on how to best utilize elders in their capacities with their knowledge and expertise… we want to continue on those types of programming for elders, that they’re able to contribute and they are very knowledgeable with their lifetime experiences and cultural knowledge.”