3 min. reading

Inuit Youth, Culture, and Wellness in Nunavut’s Fastest Growing Community

The Aqqiumavvik Wellness Society serves nearly 3,000 Inuit residents in Arviat, Nunavut’s second-largest and fastest-growing community.

The Aqqiumavvik Society, based in Arviat, Nunavut, is dedicated to providing a wide range of support to the Inuit community through cultural, family, and youth programming. Executive Director Kukik Baker has big plans to grow the organization, however, in early 2022, they began to face challenges in maintaining their expansion.

Kukik highlighted that Aqqiumavvik expanded to 23 full-time staff, with plans to double their workforce in the coming summer. Most of their funding is reliant on project contribution agreements, some lasting only a year, presenting uncertainty in sustaining programs. 

Kukik was motivated to start his journey due to his personal hardships, which are unfortunately common amongst the community because of colonization, such as cultural loss, forced relocations, and tuberculosis hospitalizations. Recognizing the need for positive change, Kukik worked as a counselor and mental health outreach worker at a community wellness center before becoming the Executive Director of Aqqiumavvik, which replaced the center in 2016. 

To navigate the new growth phase, Aqqiumavvik sought mentorship from Catalyste+. The Catalyste+ Advisors (CA) assisted Aqqiumavvik in maintaining their programs that serve approximately 3,000 Inuit residents in Arviat, Nunavut’s second-largest and fastest-growing community.

Catalyste+ paired Aqqiumavvik with CA Jim Klaassen, a management mentor who has over 50 years of experience in Northern communities. Jim’s support empowered the team to handle the business side of the organization. Klaassen emphasizes the importance of trust and respect in mentorship, aiming to equip individuals and watch their knowledge and confidence grow.

Aqqiumavvik offers a range of programs, including the Makigiarningak healing programs, Inunnguiniq family support programs, and Aajiiqatigiingniq research on Inuit Qaujimaqatuqangit (IQ) and its associated knowledge, cultural, and social systems. They also conduct IQ workshops with the support of elders to cover operational expenses. 

The organization’s youth hunting program, the Ujjisuiniq Young Hunters Program, has been instrumental in reconnecting young individuals with their cultural heritage. This program provides opportunities for youth aged eight to 25 to learn survival skills, sustainable hunting practices, and foundational Inuit values. It fosters a strong connection to the land and the Inuit way of life. 

Programs like these are paramount to the communities they serve. Catalyste+ is proud to have worked with organizations like Aqqiumavvik, who have developed tremendously, managing finances and operations to build a foundation for a long-lasting future.

Photo: Jim Klaassen

Are you a Northern-based business looking for mentorship or advisory services to strengthen your organization and the communities you serve? Learn more about Catalyste+ and how we can support you in driving growth and sustainable development.