When North Moves South, Spirit Publication
2011 – When North Moves South
Source : AANDC Spirit Publication
With approximately 2,000 Inuit residing in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada’s capital is home to the largest southern Inuit population. It is a community nurtured by the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre (OICC) approximately 90 children attend educational programs each day, related to their culture and language.
In partnership with parents and the community, the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre fosters strong and proud Inuit children, youth and families. The OICC serves Inuit children from birth to 13 years of age and their families. It provides Inuit children and youth with a learning environment that will enhance their overall development, fosters positive parenting through support and education and promotes the retention of the Inuit culture and language. The OICC believes in strong culture, strong families, strong communities and they have the programs to back that up – programs that result in children possessing pride in their culture, heritage, traditions and the ability to keep the language alive.
Fred showing Keenai, Alexander and Cynthia
a red-bellied snake.
Photo by: Lynda Brown
She continues by explaining that the OICC supports families with everything from dealing with transportation or the transit system, accessing services, one on one support for things like dental care or court hearings, to helping families during the Holidays.
Ina and Kamiakin cleaning sealskin.
Photo by: Lynda Brown
With the help of funding from UAS, the OICC conducted a community needs assessment for Inuit children 0-18 and their families living in Ottawa. The information gathered in 2009 was used to support long-term planning for program development, to raise awareness and improve advocacy. The results are still referred to in presentations and proposals today.
UAS also funded the Tukimut Afterschool Program which provides homework help, cultural activities and recreation to Inuit children in grades 1 to 8. Besides developing good study skills, Tukimut aims to foster pride in the Inuit culture while developing physical activity and nutritional awareness with a healthy dinner for the kids attending afterschool program.
All three of Lynda Brown’s children have participated in programs there. “When I was 20 I didn’t want to identify with my culture. But when I turned 30, I started to take pride in it. Because of the Centre, my children have celebrated their heritage right from the start.” Brown is proud that her four year old daughter is fluent in Inuktitut and that other young Inuit children she is helping through the programs are gaining the same language skills and self confidence.