A snapshot: 36,000 people, 23 communities, 1 highway, 89% Inuit population, majority speak Inuktut and life expectancy of 10 years less than other Canadians.
Social isolation is one of the many problems seniors face in Nunavut, and much needs to happen to address this issue. Recently, seniors received some good news that will help them respond to this challenge and others they face. On January 31, 2017, Premier Peter Taptuna advised the Society that the Government of Nunavut had approved their request for core funding for start-up costs for the 2016/2017 fiscal year. In addition, the Government committed additional funding for fiscal year 2017/18 and ongoing, as well as in-kind accommodation and translation services.
The Nunavut Seniors Society was registered as a non-profit organization in February, 2013 with a mandate to improve the lives and living conditions of Nunavut seniors by promoting their health, security, dignity, independence and service to their community. The Society acts as “one voice” advocating for and empowering Inuit and non-Inuit seniors aged 50 years and older. This is a project that was initiated and has been supported by HelpAge Canada for seven years. It involved consultations in 25 communities in the local languages.
The Society immediately began its quest for funding after their registration in 2013 and each year since to no avail. In spite of this they were able to meet the requirements of a registered non-profit organization, conducting their 2014, 2015 and 2016 AGMs via teleconferencing. Board members shared any information they had gathered from seniors and others in their community and those that they had occasion to visit.
This new funding from the Government of Nunavut enables the Society to hire a Project Officer, develop a multi-year strategic plan, and to conduct face-to-face meetings of the Board and regional and local Inuit organizations with a view to developing collaborative partnerships. Most importantly, it will enable them to visit the 25 communities to have face-to-face conversations with Elders/seniors and their families gathering relevant information to assist the Society address the needs of the local seniors and to share successes and lessons learned with them, other groups in the Territory and other Arctic communities.
The support of the Government of Nunavut will provide the Society increased visibility as it makes funding applications to the Government of Canada, the corporate sector and philanthropic organizations to enable it to grow and increase its support of Nunavut’s seniors.
Thanks to the Nunavut Seniors Society Executive and Directors for their many volunteer hours, their belief and unwavering commitment to the purpose and need for such an entity in their Territory. They are excited and will continue this enthusiasm as they move forward.
A quote from the Society President, Lazarus Arreak:
“It is an honor for the Nunavut Seniors Society to work in partnership with HelpAge Canada, which has faithfully supported us in many ways, for 7 years now, to become established as the voice of Nunavut Elders/seniors. The values of our organizations are entirely shared. Our commitment to our respective roles is confidence inspiring. We look forward with optimism and conviction and dedication to our future collaboration, and learning, in support of seniors in our part of Canada’s Arctic.”