Health, Wellness, and Personal Development

Our health and wellness programs are central to our mission of promoting community wellness in Clyde River.  Currently, we run the following health and wellness programs:

Diabetes – Ilisaqsivik’s Adult Diabetes Initiative takes an integrated approach to Diabetes prevention and healthy lifestyle promotion.  The program involves a variety of activities to promote physical fitness and a healthy diet, including recreation drop-in held six evenings a week and on Saturday afternoons, traditional games, igloo building, dog sledding, trips on the land, and health and fitness workshops.

Nutrition and Country Foods – Ilisaqsivik promotes access to nutritious food and equips Clyde River residents to make healthy food choices through our Country Foods and Healthy Meals and Lifestyles initiatives.  We hire hunters throughout the year to harvest country foods, which we serve in our programs for new and expecting mothers, children, and elders.  We also provide cooked meals and nutrition information to expecting and new mothers and their young children.

School Breakfast Program – Ilisaqsivik serves a healthy breakfast six mornings a week at the Quluaq school.  [Check back soon for information]

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) – Ilisaqsivik incorporates education and awareness-raising about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder into our programs for parents and pregnant mothers, including Parents and Tots, our Parent Support Group, Home Visits, and especially in CAPC and CPNP programs.  We also run special FASD education events featuring games and healthy foods, where we share information with participants about the impact of alcohol on fetal and child development.

Breastfeeding – We share information about the health benefits of breastfeeding in all of our programs for parents and pregnant mothers.  We also hold Breastfeeding Promotion Days, featuring games and healthy food.  We celebrate Canadian Breastfeeding Week (usually in October) in coordination with the GN Department of Health and Social Services; in 2010 we won first place in the “Less than 10,000 births per year” category of the national breastfeeding competition, with 14 mothers breastfeeding at the same time.

Community Wellness Coordinator – [Check back soon for information]

Personal Development Workshops – Each year, Ilisaqsivik hosts a variety of personal development workshops.  Workshop topics are chosen based on community interest and available expertise.  Past topics have included Parenting, Life Skills, Professionalism in the Workplace, Personal Finance and Budgeting, Harvesting and Traditional Land Based Skills, Film and Television, Drum Dancing, Throat Singing, Guitar and Drum Lessons, Dance, Grief and Loss, Sexual Abuse, Suicide Prevention, and Anger Management.  Please contact us for more information about these workshops.

Film and Media

The Ilisaqsivik Society’s interest in community film and media began with an initiative to document the knowledge and stories of our elders through video, so that skills, stories, and language could be preserved for their children and grandchildren. From the initial purchase of a few videocameras, interest in filmmaking and production has grown significantly in Clyde River.  What began as a wellness and empowerment initiative took on a life of its own.

Clyde River now has a growing in-house production capacity that includes cameras, lighting and microphones, editing equipment, and professional-quality sound booth.  We run local and regional media training workshops almost every year, and have supported Clyde River residents in their professional development efforts to gain more media skills.  Ittaq now employs a full-time media coordinator, and continues to add new projects to a growing portfolio that includes post-production for a feature documentary film, public service announcements that have been broadcast on APTN and regional television, and the Inuktitut language voice-over for the popular children’s television show, Wapos Bay.  It all happens at the Ittaq Cultural Heritage and Research Center.

Recent Media Projects – Ilisaqsivik is pleased to be able to share a variety of recent film and media projects, including cultural content, health and wellness content, and the Ilisaqsivik Documentary.  Ilisaqsivik has also received contracts to work on several professional projects.

Workshops and Professional Training – Ilisaqsivik has hosted a variety of workshops with professional filmmaking staff to enable Clyde River residents and interested individuals from communities across Nunavut the chance to learn skills in story development, filming, sound, editing, and production.  We have also invested in specialized training for a full-time media coordinator.

Community Access Program – Ilisaqsivik is a Community Access Program (CAP) site for Clyde River, offering public computer and internet access, printing, scanning, and fax.  We also offer public access to digital media equipment, including videocameras and film editing stations.  (Our CAP initiative is funded with support from Industry Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Kakivak Association, the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Education, and ED&T).

Internet – Since 2005, Ilisaqsivik has been the broadband internet provider in Clyde River for Qiniq, a satellite-based network that delivers internet services to 25 communities in Nunavut.  In Nunavut, where communities are scattered across 2 million square kilometers and travel costs are exorbitantly high, internet communications play a critical role in attracting business investment, facilitating government and private sector operations, and helping families and friends stay connected.   As recently as 2004, internet service was not available to Clyde River households; today, nearly every household has an internet connection.  Internet has also enabled Ilisaqsivik to develop new jobs in the film and media sectors, and has made it easier to organize regional workshops and training programs.  For current rates, please contact us.

Services and Rates – We provide professional film, editing, and sound services in English and Inuktitut.  Please contact us for current rates.

Professional Training

Ilisaqsivik recognizes the importance of training to assist residents from Clyde River and other Nunavut communities in gaining the skills they need to pursue meaningful work and to help others at both the individual and organizational levels.  We have developed a professional trainees program that offers training through temporary employment for Clyde River youth and adults.  We are also a regional training centre in the areas of community-based counselling, youth leadership, and film and digital media.

Professional Trainees Program – As Ilisaqsivik’s programs have grown, we have also increased the number of staff we hire on both a full-time and part-time basis. To support our growth, we have developed several training programs over the past years in order to hire, train, and promote talent from the community.  Our trainees have moved up in Ilisaqsivik to take on increasing responsibility, and have also moved into positions in other Clyde River organizations, including the Hamlet, the Housing Office, and the Health Centre.  Our professional trainees program includes Administration; Computer and Information Systems; Program Coordination; Early Childhood Education; Film, Television and Digital Media, and Librarian positions.

Inuit Youth Summer Work Experience Program – Ilisaqsivik also hires three students age 16 – 24 work for a full-time summer position each year.  Students are paired with a mentor and placed in a job according to their interests.  In 2011, these youth trainee positions included Janitor Assistant,  Children’s Worker, and Assistant Recreation Coordinator.

Regional Training – Ilisaqsivik hosts periodic training programs for residents of Clyde River and other Nunavut communities in areas where we have developed programmatic expertise.  Some of our training programs include:

  • Counselling and Workshop Facilitation – In association with Life Works Counselling, Ilisaqsivik developed a four-part “Train the Facilitator” program, which focuses on Inuit counselling and mentorship.  The overall approach, “Our Life’s Journey,” has been developed collaboratively by Ilisaqsivik leaders and counsellors working with Terri Garchinski of Life Works Counselling.  Participants in the training program learn essential counselling skills and also learn to facilitate sessions on topics ranging from loss and grief, to making groups feel comfortable, to finding funding, assessment of client progress, addictions and medications, and dealing with vicarious traumatization as caregivers.
  • Youth Leadership – [Information coming soon!]
  • Film and Digital Media – [Information coming soon!]


Like all Nunavut communities, Clyde River’s population is growing.  The median age in the community is just 21 years, and nearly 50% of the population is under age 20.  Adolescence is a challenging period everywhere.  In Clyde River, youth must deal with a lack of recreational activities, few public places to hang out in together, and a shortage of work opportunities.  Additionally, they struggle with the problem of suicide; every teen in Clyde River has friends and relatives who have committed suicide, and many teens and young adults worry about how to counsel peers with suicidal thoughts or feelings.  Offering meaningful programs and activities for youth is thus critically important, and Ilisaqsivik strives to meet this need in a variety of ways.  In addition to our ongoing counselling opportunities, we offer the following programs for youth:

Drop-In Ilisaqsivik runs a youth drop-in program on Friday – Wednesday evenings from 7 -10.  We have snacks, computers, games, movie nights, guitar lessons, youth counselors, and we offer a cooking class for youth two nights a week.  Our youth drop-in is the only community space dedicated to providing a regular, safe hang-out spot for teens and young adults.  Drop-in is staffed by two Youth Workers, who work with the Wellness Counsellor and Counselling Elder to learn appropriate mentoring, listening, and referral skills.  In addition, our Wellness Counsellor and Counselling Elder regularly visit the Youth Drop-In to conduct alcohol and drug awareness, depression, and suicide prevention workshops.

Hip Hop – In 2006, we partnered with the Ottawa-based Blueprint for Life to offer youth outreach and support through hip hop.  After Blueprint’s week-long visit to the community, hip hop became a regularOur innovative hip hop program integrates Inuit cultural practices like drum dancing, offers skill-building opportunities and peer and adult support, and teaches about healthy  lifestyle choices like avoiding cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.

Land-Based Programming – Ilisaqsivik runs several on-the-land programs each year that focus on youth.  The Father/Son Program offers male youth opportunities for mentorship in land skills from experienced hunters and elders.  The Qimmivut Program gives youth introduces Clyde River youth to Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) through dog teaming and land-based hunting and camping trips facilitated by experienced mushers, hunters, and elders.  Depending on funding and guidance from our board, we often run additional land-based programs for youth.

Youth Leadership – Nearly every year, Ilisaqsivik organizes week-long, regional youth leadership programs.  In the past, these programs have focused either on hip hop or film and media.  In March, 2011, we helped to organize a Nunavut-wide workshop in Pond Inlet for 35 youth leaders from four Nunavut communities.  The workshop used hip hop as a way to engage youth, and mixed intense dance (physical activity) with talks about healthy lifestyle choices (ie choosing good foods, not smoking, physical fitness, etc.).

Inuit Youth Summer Work Experience Program – Ilisaqsivik hires three students age 16 – 24 work for a full-time summer position each year.  Students are paired with a mentor and placed in a job according to their interests.  In 2011, these youth trainee positions included Janitor Assistant,  Children’s Worker, and Assistant Recreation Coordinator.

Youth Committee – [Check back soon for more information]

Research and Heritage

Beginning in 2005, Ilisaqsivik supported the establishment of the Ittaq Cultural Heritage and Research Centre.  In 2006, Ilisaqsivik purchased a building next door to the Family Resource Centre to house Ittaq.  Ilisaqsivik has collaborated with Ittaq to develop local leadership of research and heritage activities.  Some recent initiatives include the Cultural Heritage and Family Tree projects, as well as the Arnait Retreat.  Ittaq also works with outside researchers to promote Clyde River as a research destination and offer community members the chance to be involved in research activities.  For more information, please visit Ittaq’s website.


Clyde River is blessed to have a dynamic and committed group of elders who are at the heart of all of our programs at Ilisaqsivik.  Elders provide mentorship, serve as positive role models, teach adults, youth, and children about traditional skills and Inuktitut language, and provide essential strategic guidance into Ilisaqsivik’s program decisions.

Elders Committee – The Elders Committee, elected annually in December, oversees the Elders’ programming as well as ensuring Elder involvement in Ilisaqsivik initiatives.

Elder Counsellors and Mentors – Ilisaqsivik employs Elders to provide counselling based on Inuit Societal Values.  Elder Counsellors are available during office hours and on call as needed, and they participate in land-based workshops and activities.  Ilisaqsivik also employs a full-time Counselling Elder to oversee elder programming and to work with children and youth as an elder figure.  The Counselling Elder also works to promote the use of Inuktitut language and traditional and cultural knowledge within Ilisaqsivik and in the community.  Elders also provide support and mentorship for our children and youth programs, helping teach traditional skills and Inuktitut language and providing positive mentorship so that Clyde River youth can form strong bonds across generations.

Inuit Societal Values (ISV) – This program is designed to strengthen the role of Elders in addressing social problems and issues and promote the transmission of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit knowledge) in the community through Elder-led workshops, projects, and programs.  The ISV program has greatly expanded the involvement of Elders in Ilisaqsivik’s programming and throughout the community, and has played a vital role in helping community members connect to traditional knowledge, heritage, and skill acquisition.

Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) Workshops – The Elders organize many IQ workshops each year in order to teach youth about their culture.  These can include camping and day trips on the land, traditional skills workshops on topics like sewing and working with skins, Inuit parenting, as well as trauma and healing.

Heritage and Family Tree Projects – Special Elder-led IQ initiatives have focused on documenting family trees and collecting heritage artifacts for the new Ittaq Cultural Heritage Research Centre.

Mental Health and Counselling

The Ilisaqsivik Society has been providing counselling to Clyde River residents since its founding in 1997.  Our counselling model combines western and traditional Inuit knowledge and counselling practices.  Over time, we have grown our services to include elders, youth, and family counselling, addictions, and critical incident and trauma.  Land-based counseling and healing workshops are also central to our counselling model.

Our goal is to offer counselling in a way that engages individuals and families holistically, so that the skills they learn can be easily incorporated into their daily lives.  We also focus on providing tools and methods  support individuals and families in situations of crisis and stress.  Our approach integrates storytelling, spending time on the land, and talking with and supporting each other while doing activities like sewing, hunting, and cooking.

Clyde River residents struggle with a range of interpersonal and personal challenges, many of which are similar to human communities everywhere, and others which may be more specific to the Canadian Inuit experience.  Topics that arise in counselling sessions and trainings include residential schools, the dog slaughter, the sanitorium experience, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, sexual abuse jealousy, issues that arise from living in multigenerational households, and adoption, among other issues.

In addition to providing ongoing counselling programs, lisaqsivik also offers counsellor training programs.  In partnership with Life Works Counselling and Training Services, we developed a two year, four-part training called “Our Life’s Journey: Inuit Counsellor’s Training and Mentorship Program.”

We have developed and run regional workshops, including the Baffin Region Counsellors’ Addictions Training and Mentorship Program (2008 − 2009), which trained caregivers in fields that included child welfare, health centers, school counselors, addictions programs, mental health workers, youth workers, home care workers, elder-care workers, clergy, corrections, and justice workers.

Our counsellor training programs address many specific knowledge and skill areas to help enhance the ability of counsellors to respond to the variety of needs (emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual) in remote, Inuit Arctic communities.  Specific topics include FASD, parenting, abuse and violence, impacts of relocation, impacts of residential schools, boundary-setting, suicide, emotional management, and mental illness.

Trainings incorporate Inuit language, culture, traditions and values.  They involve on-the-land training and incorporate arts and crafts such as carving, crocheting, or sewing traditional clothing as therapeutic methods.  They offer training in a variety of counselling and therapeutic models, including traditional Inuit counselling, utilizing counselling maps, storytelling, effective communication, developing a therapeutic relationship, constellation work, and play therapy.

Children & Parents

IIlisaqsivik Society runs a variety of programs to help parents gain the skills and resources they need to facilitate healthy child development and deal with the challenges and stresses of parenthood.  Our programs for children help them gain skills in Inuktitut language, connect with elders in a positive way, learn Inuit cultural practices and traditional skills, and access healthy foods and develop healthy lifestyles.  We are always working to enhance our programs to meet the needs of parents and children identified by the community.  All of Ilisaqsivik’s children’s programming is overseen by our Children’s Programming Committee, and we also hire a Counselling Elder who works with our children’s programs to help kids develop strong bond with elders and to teach Inuktitut language and Inuit knowledge.  Currently, we offer the following programming:

Children’s Programming Committee – All of Ilisaqsivik’s children’s programming is overseen by a committee of parents, teachers, elders, and other community members.  The committee meets monthly and provides important guidance for Ilisaqsivik’s children’s program staff.

Piruqsiakkut (CAPC and CPNP)Through our Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) and Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP), Ilisaqsivik serves healthy meals and snacks six evenings a week to women, infants and children from pregnancy through age six.  These programs emphasize knowledge needed to make healthy choices, from information about Fetal Alchohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) to diabetes to the health benefits of country food.  Participants learn in a fun, supportive environment where they do sewing and crafts.  Elders share stories and knowledge about traditional parenting and offer parenting advice.

PreschoolIlisaqsivik Society offers preschool five days a week with instructors who are trained early childhood educators and Ilisaqsivik Society’s Counselling Elder. Through cooperative play and interaction, the children develop fine motor skills and learn traditional crafts, songs and stories.  Children are taught in Inuktitut, and are introduced to numbers, syllabics, and the Roman alphabet.

Parents and TotsIlisaqsivik offers a Parents and Tots program five afternoons a week for parents and their infants and toddlers up to two years of age. The program is designed to strengthen the relationship between parent and child and promote the parent as the child’s first and most important teacher.

After School Program – Ilisaqsivik provides after school programming to more than 100 children from the community every afternoon.  The programming includes literacy in Inuktitut and English, crafts, having fun, and providing healthy snacks and basic nutrition and healthy lifestyle education.

Parent Support GroupConcurrently with preschool, Ilisaqsivik Society also offers a Parent Support Group that meets twice per week.  Parents share advice and anecdotes while working on projects for their kids (e.g. Halloween costumes, traditional clothing, slippers, mittens, scarves, hats, pencil cases, puppets).  It is a quiet time for parents to regroup, build supportive and mentoring relationships, and relax.

Inuktitut Literacy –  Ilisaqsivik Society seeks to empower children in our community by improving Inuktitut language skills.  We run a variety of programs to encourage children to read and enjoy books, magazines, newspapers, and their own writing.  These include our After-School Literacy Project, our Tutoring Initiative, our Pre-Literacy Program, and our Literacy Circle.

Home Visits – For parents who need extra support or who are unable to attend programs at Ilisaqsivik, a trained early childhood educator conducts 45 minute home visits two to three times a week.  Many of our The Home Visits teacher brings activities, books and snacks to the home and shares learning with parent and child.  An important aspect of Home Visits is to improve children’s Inuktitut language skills and to practice motor skills as appropriate for their age group.

Special Needs – Ilisaqsivik Society employees a special needs tutor who conducts speech and language therapy in Inuktitut and English five days a week with young children (1 – 5 years old).

Radio Show – Community radio is a very important means of communication in Clyde River.  Many households keep the radio tuned tuned to the radio throughout the day, stopping to listen to their favorite shows and calling in to share news and stories.  Once a week, Ilisaqsivik teachers and instructors host a two-hour Children’s Literacy Radio Show for parents and preschool children (daytime show) and school-aged children (evening programming).  The shows features stories in Inuktitut from teachers, visiting community members, Elders, and children, as well as literacy games and call-in contests with prizes.  The games and contests challenge local children to practice their Inuktitut in a fun and supportive way, and rewards them for their participation.  The show also features call-in segment for parents or guardians to share a story about their child with the community, and a weekly activity that parents and children can do at home together.  The hosts share knowledge with the entire community about healthy childcare practices and responsible, effective parenting techniques.