Earlier this month mental health counsellor Mark Kelly informed the residents of five Nunavut communities that his counselling services have been deferred by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC)
According to Kelly, the Indian residential schools and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG) counselling services he provides have been postponed to sometime in early 2020.
The communities of Resolute Bay, Arctic Bay, Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet and Grise Fiord have been affected by this decision.
Kelly, who is a Canadian-certified counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, has been providing counselling services since 2011 through an approval process by ISC.
“I am not an employee or contractor to ISC, I am designated as an approved service provider,” explained Kelly. “Which means that each of the counselling clinics I provide to Nunavut are approved or denied by Indigenous Services Canada without guarantee of any future clinics.”
First time denied
For Kelly, this is the first time an application to provide services to residential school survivors has ever been denied. He had planned a counselling clinic from Nov. 11 to Dec. 4, 2019, but was unapproved due to budgetary concerns.
“These concerns were primarily due to the cost of travel to and from the communities on my caseload,” he said.
The counsellor points out that ISC is obliged to provide health support services and counselling to all survivors of residential school and their families.
“Services are available at health centres that are located in every community,” stated Rola Tfaili, media relations officer for ISC.
These aforementioned services include those provided by the territory-wide Quality of Life Secretariat, Ilisaqsivik Society in Clyde River, Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre in Rankin Inlet, the Iqaluit Community Tukisigiarvik Society, Hamlet of Cambridge Bay and Hamlet of Kugluktuk.
“These sites all have resolution health and cultural
support workers that work daily with Indian Residential School clients and their families,” stated Tfaili.
“The IRS Program will approve travel for clients to access counselling services as needed, to the nearest point of service within their region.”
Individuals seeking help could also use telephone counselling services that are available through the Hope for Wellness Help Line.
When Nunavut News asked about when the counselling sessions will start up again, no definite date was provided.
“Once ISC has approved the request and the provider has availability, counselling services will resume,” stated Tfaili.
ISC is seeking out more information on how to “most effectively manage services” in the Baffin region, considering the recent flight cost increases, flight schedule changes and the travel time required by service providers.