Inuit are all about community, and so is Tungasuvvingat Inuit. Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Cultural Education Programming provides accessible, community-based, culturally relevant activities for Inuit of all ages and offers sharing and learning opportunities for the greater community, as well.
Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s local poverty reduction project held two conversation circles on defining poverty and community resiliency within the Inuit community of Ottawa, to aid in the development of a integrated employment strategy. The perspectives of community members and frontline service providers working at TI are captured in the graphics, which display the complexity of poverty and pathways to resiliency for urban Inuit. The use of graphic recording, which is an arts-based method illustrated in the images allows for the sharing of knowledge and information back to community.
Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Inuit-specific, front-line programs and services have been in demand across the country. They have ranged from a youth mentoring program in St. John’s, NL, to a highly successful, on-the-land, trauma-and-addiction treatment cycle, facilitated by Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Mamisarvik Healing Centre, in the bush at Reindeer Station, N.W.T., 50 kilometers up an ice road north of Inuvik and 90 kilometers from the Arctic Ocean.
Our Family Resource Centre Programming focuses on families and promotes the healthy development of young children (0-six years). Our Housing Support team assesses clients’ housing needs and assists clients in acquiring housing.
Inuit receive job and career support from the Employment Services Team. The team works with job seekers, employers and government programs to bring the right people together with the resources they need for success.
Mamisarvik Healing Centre and Transition House is an Inuit-specific, 12-bed, 53-day, co-ed, residential and day treatment program, for those aged 18 and older, struggling with trauma and addiction issues. It participates in more than 60 partnerships with other organizations and government bodies.
Mamisarvik’s 10-bed Transition House is an abstinent duplex right next door to the treatment centre. It accommodates five women and five men at a time for varying stays of up to a year, facilitating their transition back into fully independent living.
Mamisarvik Healing Centre and Transition House
Tungasuvvingat Inuit has a distinctly human way of knowing that its’ Mamisarvik Healing Centre and Transition House program in Ottawa, which treats Inuit from across the country battling trauma and addiction issues, is well-loved and extremely effective.
When the word “Mamisarvik” (which means “A Place of Healing”) is spoken, many Inuit immediately break into a broad smile.
Mamisarvik is a national, Inuit-specific, eight-week (53-day), residential and day program for women and men aged 18 and older. It is recognized throughout the country as a centre of excellence. It is the primary model for Inuit, evidence-based, trauma-and-addiction treatment in Canada and was an early leader in the field’s movement toward trauma-informed recovery.
Tungasuvvingat Inuit began offering residential treatment in 2003 to meet the overwhelming needs of Inuit in crisis. Since then, 500-plus people have participated in residential treatment and many times more have directly benefitted from a wide range of Mamisarvik’s clinical services. Clients also have immediate access to all ofTungasuvvingat Inuit’s other comprehensive, front-line services.
Inuit have suffered devastating cultural oppression and much of it was concentrated in the 1950s and 1960s. The cultural trauma included forced relocation of Inuit for sovereignty purposes in The Far North and the systematic slaughter of sled dogs to move nomadic Inuit into settlements. Forcing Inuit children and youth to attend residential schools during this period has also created an inter-generational cascade of severe trauma.
Much of the trauma is specific to Inuit. The resulting damage to individuals and the culture has created an identity crisis in many people, which is why Inuit-specific treatment is critical to succeed with the enormous challenge of healing. The culture shock of simply travelling from a small community in The North to The South can be daunting for people with a multitude of extremely difficult issues already on their plates. These issues include some of the world’s highest suicide rates, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, grief, neglect, shame and guilt and extensive sexual, physical and emotional abuse for both women and men.
Four of Mamisarvik’s 12 beds are available to Correctional Service Canada through a partnership with Tungasuvvingat Inuit. The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre provides psychiatric services and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse is another official partner.
Mamisarvik also partners with the Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy, the Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative and Cancer Care Ontario. All deliver programming.
Mamisarvik nurtures the growth and maintenance of clients’ recovery following treatment, through its continuing-care program, which features relapse prevention and individualized continuing-care plans. A weekly continuing-care group for community members following treatment also is conducted.
Clients are encouraged to stay connected with Mamisarvik long after their eight weeks of high-impact, personal discovery, which results in an impressive treatment completion rate of about 80 per cent.
Mamisarvik participates in the Indian Residential School Resolution Health Support Program, which provides emotional, mental-health and cultural-support services to residential-school survivors and their families. Our workers provide individual and group counselling and referral services.
The Transition House is a supervised, abstinent duplex next door. It accommodates five women and five men for up to a year, offering the opportunity to prepare for a transition from trauma-and-addiction issues to fully independent living.
One client eloquently voiced the powerful, healing impact that Mamisarvik’s treatment program has had on her and her family.
“I have to say it’s the best choice I’ve ever made,” she says. “I’ve learned to talk about and deal with issues. Before, not talking about my issues would eat me alive and I was always angry, mad at the world.”
“I’m now a better mother and I’m reunited with my children. Before, I didn’t take the time to listen and talk with my kids about how they feel. I’m also a better partner to my husband and I am able to share my thoughts and feelings. We do more family activities. I am truly blessed and forever grateful, as I take it one day at a time.”
A telephone call to the Intake and Assessment Worker at 613-563-3546, Ext 202, or an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org is all it takes to launch your healing journey at any time.
The Mamisarvik Experience
When clients summon the incredible courage and motivation to begin their healing journeys at Mamisarvik, they complete an extensive, standardized, clinical assessment.
The first day they arrive at Mamisarvik, clients are enveloped in a culturally appropriate home-away-from-home. Two-thirds of Mamisarvik’s dedicated, 20-member staff is of Inuit descent and clients are encouraged to speak Inuktitut or English in their recovery work, whichever they prefer.
The walls of the 12-bed treatment centre and the 10-bed Transition House are laden with wonderful Inuit art. Country food, such as caribou, seal and arctic char, is part of the menu prepared by a full-time Inuk cook.
Mamisarvik offers a holistic, bio-psycho-social-spiritual model of trauma-and-addiction treatment year-round, powered by the twin healing engines of group and individual counselling. Clients learn that they are not bad people trying to become good people. They are people with problems, learning how to solve them. They learn that addictive behaviour is primarily a way of attempting to kill the pain of underlying trauma. They learn how to live healthy lifestyles. They learn to love themselves.
A deep sense of safety and trust, so crucial for successful counselling, is established immediately at Mamisarvik, with its professional, compassionate, non-judgmental and client-centered environment, based on Inuit values.
Clients participate in day-time groups focusing on trauma, addiction, accurate Inuit history, anger management, gender-group discussions, assertiveness and continuing care. Elders offer traditional healing knowledge. Evening activities include art therapy, Inuit crafts, life skills, YMCA visits, and Alcoholics Anonymous and Smart Recovery meetings. There are also many other cultural and recreational activities enjoyed throughout the city.
Each client works with a primary counsellor, who also facilitates access to medical care and helps address legal concerns, such as corrections issues and child custody. Counsellors also work cooperatively with clients’ Northern Workers.
Community Support Program
With a focus on counselling families with children in care and Violence against Women initiatives, Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Community Support Program provides short-term counselling, crisis intervention, justice system and legal supports and health-care support.
The program offers advocacy, language interpretation and settlement assistance to newcomers arriving in Ottawa. Clients benefit from referral to housing, financial, legal, medical and social services. Tungasuvvingat Inuit provides access to health education and access to Non-insured Health Benefits. Our support worker provides individualized services, accommodating clients with disabilities and assisting with unique and challenging life events and situations.
Community Support routinely participates in Tungasuvvingat Inuit-sponsored community events, makes group presentations and engages in other activities to communicate program service offerings and stay connected with the Inuit community.
Program staff represents Tungasuvvingat Inuit in external social agency working committees and are often called upon to provide input to City of Ottawa social policy initiatives.
Family Resource Centre Programming focuses on families and promotes the healthy development of young children (0-six years). Supports and activities are made available to children and their families facing challenging life circumstances. The goal is to promote healthy outcomes through four core areas: child development and nutrition, cultural development and retention, parenting and care-taking skills and community development and healing.
Parenting Program (Canadian Action Program for Children)
The Parenting Program is conducted in six-week cycles in a culturally appropriate setting. It provides a healthy lunch, together with traditional teachings. Guest speakers present on a variety of topics such as public health, legal issues, parenting workshops and personal health care. Inuit elders also share their traditional teachings. This is a parent-driven program, based on the needs voiced by our clients. During breaks in programming, we offer a parent drop-in, which provides free play for the kids in partnership withTungasuvvingat Inuit Sports and Recreation program, which engages the community in organized physical activities.
Pre-Post-Natal Program (Canadian Pre-Post-Natal Program)
Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s program offers support for pregnant parents and new parents for children up to 18 months old. A healthy lunch suitable for expectant mothers and young children is provided. Discussion topics include the different stages of pregnancy and infant development. Discussions are parent -driven and we invite guest speakers, such as nurses, Ottawa Public Health representatives, diabetes workers and community elders.
Relief Care Program
Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Relief Care Program is for children aged six months to six years. The program offers support for parents by providing childcare relief with trained staff in a safe and culturally appropriate environment. We offer a healthy lunch and snacks. Staff interacts with the children by assisting them with fine and gross motor skills.Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Family Resource Centre has a fenced -in back yard for outdoor play.
Supervised Access Visits
The FRC offers supervised access visits for children that are in care. The centre is a culturally appropriate setting for families, where parents and children feel comfortable. Parents feel more at ease with the support of Inuktitut-speaking workers, who help to organize and plan visitations and ensure that the rights of parents are respected.
FRC staff performs a multitude of ancillary supports and services to the Inuit community, including supervised home visits, outreach at community events, interpretation and translation, transportation, court support and liaison, and referral services with numerous agencies.
Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Housing First program serves clients who are chronically or episodically homeless, and who are at different stages of housing stability.
The goal of the program is to house people, and then support them. The evidence is clear that people achieve better long-term housing outcomes and achieve a more positive quality of life when this is the sequence of service. Once housed, individuals may benefit from life skills training, budgeting classes, skills upgrading, addiction treatment, and cultural practices that meet the individual’s needs.
Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Housing First team works directly with clients to devise an action plan appropriate to the individual’s needs. The team advocates for clients by liaising with landlords and other housing stakeholders, and provides referral to appropriate internal and external service providers.
The Housing Support Program assists Inuit in transitioning to an urban setting and to prevent homelessness in Ottawa’s rapidly growing Inuit community.
The Housing Support team helps to identify the clients’ housing needs and guides them in acquiring housing through the private market and/or Social Housing. The worker assists in housing searches, filling out housing application forms, and accompanying clients to apartment viewings and meetings with potential landlords. Inuit tenants can also request housing support with landlord-and-tenant issues, including eviction notices, rent-payment arrangements and hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board. Clients are always encouraged to seek training and employment opportunities through TI’s Employment Program. When social assistance is required, the Housing Support Worker helps with the application process and can act as liaison between the client and Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program, EI, etc.
Ancillary Housing Support Services include the following:
Community Support – Identification: Clients are given assistance in applying for new or replacement ID, including birth certificates, OHIP cards, passports, NTI beneficiary cards, etc.
Non-Insured Health Benefits: Tungasuvvingat Inuit helps clients apply for Non-Insured Health Benefits and find clinics that accept patients covered under NIHB.
Transportation Support: Transportation support is provided for clients who have to travel long distances for their appointments. Directions and bus tickets are given to clients and, in some situations, clients are driven to and from their appointments by the Housing Support Worker.
Community Kitchen: The Community Kitchen is a weekly program focusing on communal food preparation, nutrition, and the importance of a healthy diet. Although there is some country food available occasionally, its purpose is to introduce Southern foods that Inuit are unfamiliar with. It also provides education about the nutritional value and preparation of these foods.
Food Security Program (Food and Clothing Banks): In partnership with the Ottawa Food Bank, Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s weekly Food Bank provides food for Inuit clients who have little or no income, who are homeless, or who are considered food insecure. Clients also have access to Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Clothing Bank, which receives clothing and household items through donations.
Men’s Group: The Tungasuvvingat Inuit Men’s Group is a weekly program focusing on the many Inuit men who have little or no income, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and who often have substance-abuse issues. The group provides a safe and abstinent environment in which men can participate in talking circles, board-game nights, movie nights and cultural activities such as carving or drum-making.
“Thank you for having a place for the elders to get together,” says one elder in Inuktitut, appreciative of the wide range of Family Resource Centre offerings. “Good food, with good company and good staff! It gives us an opportunity to get out of our houses.”
Ontario Inuit receive job and career support from Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Employment Services Team. The aim is to provide the highest quality career and training programs to help our clients reach their goal of obtaining meaningful employment.
The Employment and Learning Centre responds to labour market demands and creates partnerships with public and private sectors to train and hire Inuit in the Ontario region. Services for employers include access to financial incentives to hire Inuit candidates, an employer network providing access to a list of job seekers and free job-posting services.
Our service offers free access to computers, job postings and current employment information. Clients receive one-on-one employment counseling and we provide workshops and presentations throughout the year on a variety of topics including computer skills training, interviewing skills, resume and cover letter preparation, and effective communication techniques. Our workshops are designed to facilitate self-awareness, boost confidence and develop strong, fundamental career-driven skills.
Our team helps Inuit apply for funding to enroll in post secondary education and also provides employment-related training funds for Ontario Inuit residents. We assist Inuit from outside Ontario in securing employment funding as well.
Our employment services also include Individual trainee sponsorship programs such as summer student placement assistance, job creation, on the job training, targeted wage subsidy and the purchasing of training.
The Education Support Program helps current and future Inuit post-secondary students to enhance their full potential and succeed at college and university programs. The program focuses on 3 areas:
• Supporting post-secondary students and their families through peer-to-peer support, social activities and counselling
• Preparing students for the transition to College/University such as an annual Surviving College Retreat and funding information
• Building awareness of post-secondary education programs like campus tours and career samplers/exploration events
Culture, Youth, Elders, Sports, Recreation and Health Programming
Cultural Education Programming offers accessible, community-based, culturally relevant activities for Inuit and the community at large. The program is designed to develop traditional Inuit skills and knowledge.Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s cultural presentations also inform the general public about Inuit heritage and traditional lifestyle in a way that is both educational and entertaining.
Youth Community Action Program (YCAP)
The YCAP project is a youth-driven program that works with community Elders to celebrate Inuit culture and traditions. Youth learn about traditions from our Elders and then relate the knowledge gained back to the community in a medium of their choosing, leaving a lasting legacy for the community and future generations.
Children and Youth Strategy
Children and Youth Strategy is a mechanism to consult with the Inuit community on a new Aboriginal Children and Youth Strategy that will identify principles and actions to transform the way the Ministry of Community and Youth Services delivers services to our community.
Youth in Transition (YIT)
The YIT program provides supports to help young people currently involved in and soon-to-be leaving the care of CAS. TI’s YIT Worker helps youth to connect with educational, employment, housing, life skills, mental health and other supports in their communities, and supports them in navigating the transition from care to adulthood.
Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Elder program enables our elders to remain active and engaged in community life by sharing their skills, experience and knowledge with each other and the wider community. Tungasuvvingat Inuit promotes and honours our seniors as valuable assets to our community. Our project empowered and encouraged our Elders to share their traditional knowledge and skills through various experiences related to seasonal activities, with the results being incorporated into a calendar of traditional knowledge.
Sports and Recreation and Health Promotion
Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Sports and Recreation Program and Health Promotion Program focus on health education and awareness to support healthy lifestyle choices. The programs apply to Inuit of all ages and works in partnership with Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s other support services programs. Services aim at empowering participants with the knowledge and resources required to live a healthy lifestyle through diet and physical activity.