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Celebrating and supporting Inuit communities in Ottawa

June 21, 2024

By Jacqueline Tingle

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Ottawa is home to a thriving Inuit community, the largest outside of Nunavut. Inuuqatigiit Centre for Inuit Children, Youth and Families, Tungasuvvingat Inuit, and St. Margaret’s Inuit Congregation are each supporting and celebrating Inuit culture and identity in the nation’s capital. PWRDF is proud to have supported these three partners through its Indigenous Responsive Grant program.

With almost half the Inuit population being under 18, the need for cultural, educational, and social support services is important. The Inuit people have experienced historical trauma, resulting from colonial policies and cultural suppression. As a result, healing and pride in Inuit identity is an ongoing journey, one in which PWRDF is happy to play a role. These organizations’ events and programs are a testament to the strength and resilience of the Inuit community.

The Inuuqatigiit Centre is the largest Inuit and Indigenous service provider in Ottawa. It offers cultural, recreational and social services to Inuit people in Ottawa and surrounding communities. The Inuit community is reclaiming its culture and traditions after experiencing trauma from residential schools, tuberculosis treatment, and loss of children. Healing and pride in Inuit identity is an ongoing journey, and the Centre’s annual Inuit Day Celebration is an important part in this process. In February 2024, the event brought together 450 community members for a vibrant celebration of cultural activities, including traditional foods, games, throat singing, and elder storytelling.

Simon and Zippie enjoy the Tungasuvvingat Inuit Christmas party in November 2023.
(Left to right) Joan Cunha and Meeka, an Inuit elder, watch cultural performances at the Tungasuvvingat Inuit Christmas event.

Tungasuvvingat Inuit is an Inuit-specific organization that offers nearly 30 services, including social support, cultural activities, employment assistance, and residential treatment for mental health and addictions. Its mission is to be a “one-stop resource” for Inuit people in Ontario, supporting them in reclaiming their culture. Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Community Christmas Party in November 2023 brought together 1,200 community members for a holiday meal, traditional food, and cultural activities.

Four Inuit organizations collaborated to organize the Inuit Christmas Party. “We have truly embraced the Inuit way by working together for a common purpose, to serve the community and we hope that everyone enjoys themselves!” said Judy Anilniliak, Interim Executive Director of Tungasuvvingat Inuit. Merry Christmas! Quviasugitsi Quviasuvingmi!” This event is a testament to the organization’s commitment to supporting Inuit in recovering their culture and traditions.

St. Margaret’s Inuit Congregation is an Indigenous Christian community and a source of spiritual and emotional strength for Inuit operating out of St. Margaret’s Anglican Church. As the first and only Inuit-led Anglican church in the south, it provides a welcoming space for worship, with a focus on reconciliation. They offer a supportive environment for gathering, sharing food and cultural activities. The annual feast is an anticipated community celebration that benefits the Inuit people in Ottawa for medical treatments, retirement care, and those who are precariously housed or unhoused. The event includes a full Christmas dinner, food and transport vouchers, and a sense of community and belonging to over 200 participants, including men, women, and children. The gathering is particularly important for Inuit who are homesick for communities in the Arctic.