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Programming dollars in hand

Easier times for youth and elders centre

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Pelly Bay (Aug 12/02) - After struggling to keep an elders and youth centre open last year, officials involved with the project in Kugaaruk are looking at an easier time in the year ahead.

Hamlet senior administrator Quinn Taggart said last week the centre received a $15,000 programs grant from the Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth.

The money means youths and elders involved with the facility will be able to develop programs -- something they've been striving to do since purchasing the building from the Koomiut Co-op in 1999.

The department then put $130,000 toward renovating the building, but did not accept a proposal for program funding last year.

Taggart said the grant also means the centre will be fully utilized by community members this fall and winter. "It's putting CLEY's investment to good use," he said.

"We don't want to close the centre because it's too important to the community. We're hoping this can carry us through the winter," he said.

The dollars will be used to develop more traditional programs, including survival skills, carving and storytelling.

Taggart said following the recent death of elder Martha Ittimangnak, there was renewed stress within the community to record the stories and wisdom of their elders.

"We didn't get much of a chance to record her stories. We want to start doing that," he said.

As for the operation and maintenance costs of the centre, Taggart said they continued to be of concern, but the hamlet thought it better to find the money elsewhere.

"We know CLEY's budget is ridiculously low, given the essential value of the department, so we wanted to concentrate on programs," he said. "If we have to absorb it into the hamlet's budget, we will."

The Kitikmeot community established the centre in an effort to build the relationship between the youth and elders. This will help preserve and promote Inuit culture while staving off some of the community's social programs.