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Eleventh hour reprieve
Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre has funding extended

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012

"On a scale of one to 10, I'd rate it a 12."

That's how Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre executive director George Dunkerley said he felt after getting the news Residential School program funding under Health Canada was extended for at least another year.

NNSL photo/graphic

Kivalliq Counselling and Support Services (KCSS) support workers and staff members through the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre such as Martin Kreelak of Baker Lake, Luke Suluk of Arviat, Oral Kiffiak (counselling manager) of Rankin Inlet and Noel Kaludjak (KCSS regional director) of Coral Harbour, back row from left, and Hannah Benoit of Rankin, Isabella Kridluar of Repulse Bay and Charlotte Kattegatsiak of Chesterfield Inlet, front row from left, are feeling a lot better after Health Canada announced a funding extension this past month. - NNSL file photo

Dunkerley said Health Canada is waiting to see where the settlement agreement goes before committing, or denying, future funding.

He said all that's certain at this point is the funding, which was due to expire in March 2013, has been extended until March of 2014.

"The funding keeps our resolution health support workers (RHSW), who are counsellors for residential school survivors, and our cultural support workers (CSW) program, which is also directly related to residential school survivors and their families," said Dunkerley.

"The funding also covers specific events by the men's group in Coral Harbour (Men Rising Up), following Health Canada guidelines as to where and when they run.

"But they will be able to hold their meetings under Health Canada's banner for, at least, another year.

"Transportation costs are covered for the group, itself, as well as men coming for counselling sessions."

Pulaarvik Kablu has RHSW in Rankin Inlet, Coral Harbour and Chesterfield Inlet, and CSW in Baker Lake, Arviat and Repulse Bay.

The CSW can request an RHSW to come to a community for support when they run into serious issues requiring a counsellor.

Dunkerley said since the centre's contracts are year to year, his staff members are protected until March of 2014.

He said Pulaarvik is also part of a national task force trying to replace funding lost through the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF).

"I returned from meetings this past month where we were trying to identify alternative sources of funding to replace that AHF money.

"The sun's not out yet, but things do look better.

"It's a matter of us finding pots of money in various government departments that relate back to the residential school issue.

"A lot of healing centres are going to hurt really bad when the AHF money runs out in December of 2013, because they don't have anywhere else to turn."

Dunkerley said the centre will keep a close eye on the federal government from March to December of 2013 and its decision on youth program funding.

He said the program has been a nightmare for the past three years.

"The Urban Multi-Purpose Aboriginal Youth Centre program was changed to the Cultural Connections to Aboriginal Youth program three years ago.

"We didn't receive funding until September in year one, but, we were told it would be easier the following year, but then we didn't get funded until October.

"Then they transferred the program to Aboriginal Affairs on April 1, 2012, and the Treasury Board froze the money.

"Now we're looking at November before we get started this year."

Dunkerley said the worst part of the funding delays is not being able to hold summer programs for youth.

He said he can have kids make ulus and snow knives until the cows come home in shop classes at Maani Ulujuk Ilinniarvik or the trade school, but they're just pieces of metal in a closet if they can't get out in the summer to learn how to use them.

"It's also important to note the Aboriginal Healing Foundation no longer funds us directly.

"We're now funded through Ottawa healing centre Tungasuvvingat Inuit.

"So we've received great news on extended funding through Health Canada, but there's still a lot of work ahead of us at the national level."

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