It is with care and compassion that Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre is suspending its services related to substance use recovery in Nunavik. The Centre’s services remain a vital need and a high priority in the region, but the quality of our services and the safety of our staff and guests are of the utmost importance. Without them, we can’t fulfill our mission.
“We know the impact of social distancing and isolation, as well as the decrease in stocks of alcohol available for sale, are additional stressors for our people with problematic substance use. This situation leads to deeper feelings of stress, sadness, anxiety, anger, or boredom. We are staying up to date with regional organizations and as soon as the restrictions are lifted, we will be ready to reschedule our next cycles and plan the welcoming of our guests,” confirmed Alicia Aragutak, Executive Director.
Since March 16, 2020, Isuarsivik has been supporting the decisions of the health care authorities and complying with all its recommendations to control the pandemic in our region. Given the seriousness of the situation, Isuarsivik decided to close its facility and to temporarily offer its centre to NRBHSS for emergency needs in the region.
Concretely, the upcoming women cycle scheduled in June and July is postponed until the region is given the green light to safely operate an inpatient program. As for the other sessions scheduled this fall, dates will be readjusted when the reopening of the centre is confirmed. In preparation of the next cycle, we have a plan to sanitize the centre, instill new safety and healthy measures for both staff and guests, and ensure quality and safety for everyone.
In reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak, Isuarsivik has been proactive by initiating its first project under the Continued Care Services Division. Former Isuarsivik guests can now join a virtual peer support group called Isuarsivik Recovery Aftercare to connect and share resources amongst a community of peers in recovery. In addition, Isuarsivik launched a social campaign on Facebook in support of all those confined in their homes and living with trauma. As part of this initiative, we have put together a series of messages inspired by Inuit ancestors’ values to share compassion and nurture good faith for the difficult weeks to come.
Isuarsivik team is still connected and can be reached by email for any questions or follow-up on ongoing projects.
Last fall, Isuarsivik announced that it had secured $40.5m to build the new main facility and 12 housing units for staff. As planned, the call for tenders for the construction of the main facility was launched in early January 2020. On February 17, the Committee opened and reviewed the bids, and then confirmed the lowest compliant bidder to be Les Construction Pépin et Fortin Inc., a contractor with a solid experience in Nunavik.
The contract was supposed to be awarded the following weeks, but the COVID-19 outbreak forced us to postpone the signature of the contract. We had to engage in an extensive risk analysis while the construction sector was locked for several weeks. To enable Isuarsivik to take an informed position in this very complex situation, we’ve been in close communication with actors of the construction industry, legal advisors, regional organizations that are promoting construction projects, and our partners from all levels of government.
Taking into account the perspective of all parties, we finally awarded the construction contract to Les Constructions Pépin et Fortin Inc. on April 16, 2020. This date became an important milestone in Isuarsivik’s history because its dream is finally getting closer to becoming a reality.
Our project team and the contractor are working very hard to ensure everything is in place to start construction this summer, while respecting the increased safety measures adopted to protect the workers and the population of Nunavik. However, considering the uncertainties regarding the re-opening of the Nunavik region to the construction workers, Isuarsivik is working with its partners on a contingency plan to ensure the success of the project despite the current complex situation.
Isuarsivik would like to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of some individuals who have played a major role in this contract-awarding process, namely:
- Its Board Members; Dave Forrest, Mary Aitchison, Martha Greig, Shirley White Dupuis, Steven Kelly, Sean McDonald, Charlotte Perret, Minnie Maali Snowball, and Louisa Kuananack
- Its executive director, Alicia Aragutak
- Its development plan coordinator, Philippe-Alexandre Bourgouin
- Its construction project manager, Maxime Héroux
- The Council of project partners, Adamie Delisle Alaku, Silas Watt, Michael Gordon, Patrick Beauchesne, Yannick Larouche-Tremblay, Dave Forrest, and Mary Aitchison
- Its legal advisor, Jean-François Arteau
Thanks to the incredible power of word of mouth, we received a surprise contribution to help the cause of healing in Nunavik. In early March 2020, Desjardins made a $5,000 donation to the Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre to support the Pingngupaa Challenge, which took place last February in Nunavik.
This generous donation came as a nice surprise on a Wednesday morning in the form of a cheque, delivered by Clara Morrissette-Boileau, an employee of the Kativik Regional Government. Her brother Antoine, a Desjardins partner, explains, “Every year, Desjardins, in partnership with Freedom International Brokerage, donates a portion of its investment profits to a cause chosen by a Desjardins employee. And this year, I was the lucky one designated to choose the cause!” In a telephone interview, he stressed how he always had a strong interest in Nunavik and the Inuit people. That’s why he wanted to take this opportunity to make a small difference in the lives of people in need. “When I asked my sister to name organizations that play a key role in the region, she immediately told me about Isuarsivik and I was quickly charmed by the cause,” says Antoine.
Isuarsivik would like to warmly thank the Morrissette-Boileau family as well as Desjardins’s team for their trust and for contributing to the Centre’s mission.
Isuarsivik is a registered charity. We therefore accept donations from companies who wish to help making the Centre’s services more accessible to the 14 communities of Nunavik. Donations will also be used to buy equipment to support the cultural component of our new Centre’s programs.
A social campaign in support of all those in Nunavik confined in their homes living with intergenerational trauma.
To protect ourselves and our loved ones, we must avoid visiting other people or receiving them into our own homes as much as possible. It’s important to respect our health organizations’ regulations and advice. They’re in the best position to know how to keep us protected during this outbreak.
Now, living in an overcrowded home within an already isolated region can certainly cause a lot of stress and anxiety. It’s important to take care of our physical and mental health during this time of crisis.
At Isuarsivik, our team is experienced and trained. We can help people in needs to better manage the current situation with minimal consequences. Since we know that Nunavimmiut are at home and connected to social media, we decided to make the most of the relationship with our new friend, Inutsiaq and our Facebook community. Indeed, we put together a series of messages aimed at sharing compassion and nurturing good faith for the difficult weeks to come.
“Inuit ancestors have paved the way with resiliency; setting their mind and soul right in order to overcome uncertain days, weeks and sometimes months. They learned to ground themselves with their values and traditions to survive the harshest of circumstances, and it’s imperative to relate to them in order to find strength and cope during difficult and stressful times”, shared Paul Robertson, Isuarsivik’s Program Manager.
All messages are created with the great support of our recovery team composed of Paul Robertson, Ealasie Simigak, Maria Robertson, Shawn Morin, and Rebecca Kasudluak.
February 4, 2020, the Kativik Ilisarniliriniq Post-Secondary Students organized a one of a kind event to support the Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre: the Cycle to End the Cycle initiative.
In conjunction with the College Montmorency and John Abbott College, post-secondary students from Kativik Ilisarniliriniq organized a simultaneous indoor cycle-a-thon between both schools. Inspired by Hannah’s Journey Across Canada, the project was part of the 2020 National Suicide Awareness Week. It focused on mental health awareness with activities such as traditional music and wellness. Over 70 students, teachers, and collaborators cycled between 1 to 2 p.m. in the two participating CEGEPs.
A total of $2,441 was raised in support of the Cycle to End the Cycle initiative and Isuarsivik. The event was very successful and emotional. Students of the Montmorency CEGEP ended the event by writing the names of those lost to suicide, followed by a moment of silence.
“We understand the importance of Isuarsivik’s mission to help healing and to strengthen the region. It was unanimous amongst all students: they had to cycle for the cause, for those in need of recovery,“ shared one of the students.
The Isuarsivik family wishes to address its more sincere thanks to both teams for initiating this project. “On behalf of my whole team, and especially our guests, thank you for your support and for giving space to the students, who don’t often have a platform to express and process all of what happens in our region. Nallina, nakurmiik from my core!”, gratefully stated Alicia Aragutak, Isuarisivik Executive Director.
On February 17, 2020, three NAV Canada employees welcomed Alicia Aragutak, Isuarsivik’s executive director, and Aputik Forrest, administration manager, in their distinctive work environment: the Kuujjuaq airport tower.
This visit was more than just a friendly gathering between NAV Canada and Isuarsivik. While they were there, Alicia Aragutak and Aputik Forrest received in person a special donation from the Flight Service Specialists team in Kuujjuaq, a contribution to the 2020 Pingngupaa Challenge.
The $2,000 donation is the result of a unique initiative of the employee of NAV Canada who, every year, raise funds for a local charity. This year, NAV Canada also donated youth hockey equipment to the communities of Nunavik.
“We are proud to contribute for the first time to Isuarsivik’s cause, which is to help Nunavimmiut heal from addictions and trauma, and access a healthier lifestyle,” stated Shawn Schliep, part of the Kuujjuaq FSS team.
“Hopefully, this initiative will have a snowball effect and will convince other companies or employees to donate this month as part of the Pingngupaa Challenge”, reiterate Schliep.
The whole Isuarsivik family would like to extend its appreciation to NAV Canada’s employees, and especially to its team based in Kuujjuaq.
Now that the access road is done, Isuarsivik is enthusiastic about the upcoming steps to break ground for the new Centre. On January 10, 2020, the team launched the public call for tenders on SEAO after several busy weeks finalizing the construction documents.
Isuarsivik is grateful of the great collaboration received from EVOQ Architecture, NCK, BPA and SNC-Lavalin to respect the deadlines and make sure to include all last minute’s adjustments.
The bids shall be opened in the week of February 17, 2020. If all goes well, the contract should be awarded this Spring, right on time to kick off the construction season starting this July with the first sealift.
On February 4th, our Executive Director, Alicia Aragutak was decorated with the Indspire Award – Inuit Youth (2020) for her outstanding achievements, life experience and community involvement. By winning this award, she became the first Inuk in Nunavik to win the Inuit Youth Category.
Originally from Umiujaq and now living in Kuujjuaq, Alicia has been engaged from an early age to ensure a better future for her fellow Inuit. She is a staunch protector of Inuit identity and history. She never misses an opportunity to advocate and speak for her fellow Inuit while having the highest respect for elders and maintaining a strong comprehension of the younger generation’s concerns.
Isuarsivik is privileged to count on the leadership of such a role model to guide the management team’s orientation, liaise diligently with the Board of Directors as well as to encourage and empower the staff.
January 2020 will remain a very significant month for Isuarsivik, but especially for its employees. Last month, four team members received keys to access their new home fully furnished by the organization. Two of them got a two-bedroom apartment and the other two a one-bedroom. All units come with a shed next door two of which were built by local construction trainees from the Sanajiit Project.
There is a lot of work behind the scenes for a community-based organization to have set out the needs for a staff house and see it to completion. But the work is not done since two additional fourplexes are confirmed from the funding agreement for the new Centre. Isuarsivik will be launching the call for tenders for the remaining eight lodging units before the end of February.
This accomplishment was made possible by our volunteer Board members, Kautaq Construction, EVOQ Architecture, Bouthillette Parizeau, NCK and SNC-Lavalin who have been great allies since the beginning in the realization of this project.
The major construction project for the new centre is to build three fourplex to lodge Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre employees by the end of 2020. While two building pads were prepared this summer for next year’s construction, the third fourplex is up already.
The construction of this fourplex started back in the Summer 2018 in Kuujjuaq with the preparation of the building pad. As soon as the first sealift arrived this year, Kautaq Construction began the construction of the residence. The original schedule was respected so that the fourplex is now at the stage of the interior finishing. The building should be accessible to Isuarsivik by the beginning of December 2019, ready to be furnished with appliances and furniture in the same month and available for employees in February 2020.
Alongside this fourplex four sheds will be installed to store equipment and materiel. Two of these sheds were built out of a Sanajiit carpentry workshop in partnership with Kautaq Construction, the Kativik Ilisarniliriniq and the Kativik Regional Government.