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Pangnirtung’s champions

LifeRandallAnthony CommunicationsComment
 Pangnirtung residents gather at the youth centre. supplied

Pangnirtung residents gather at the youth centre. supplied

Exploring economic development opportunities in this Nunavut community

The Baffin Island settlement of Pangnirtung, 50 km south of the Arctic Circle, has its own superhero – Marvel Comics’ Amka Aliyak, a.k.a. Snowguard – but the Nunavut community’s real champions are members of the Inuit Ilagiit Society (IIS), a service organization serving the 1,500 residents.

The organization addresses issues of food security, economic and social security, and community and youth wellness in the village.

Members of the IIS worked with Canadian Executive Services Organization (CESO) volunteer advisers to explore economic development objectives in the small community. CESO hosted workshops for board members on their roles and responsibilities in governance and assisted in identifying opportunities to generate income and develop a business plan for a soup kitchen, youth centre, coffee shop, an online clothing store and a convention centre.

"Everything we do is about capacity building,” explains CESO CEO Wendy Harris. “CESO works in partnership with key people in communities to help them build the skills and experience they need to develop their own business plans. This approach ensures there is a really strong sustainability element – after the volunteer adviser has left the field, the community retains the benefit.”

In Pangnirtung, the soup kitchen and youth centre opened in 2016. In addition to the 50 hot lunches it provides to the community three times a week, the new facilities have created four jobs for local residents.

CESO volunteers also worked with the IIS and the community to conduct health and wellness workshops and create an action plan to address suicide prevention and promote strength building, says Ms. Harris.

“The partnership between CESO volunteers and the Inuit Ilagiit Society strives to follow a holistic approach to community economic development. The workshop resulted in the creation of a five-year action plan that will be used to gain support from funders and potential partners in promoting healthy and sustainable communities,” says Ms. Harris.

In addition to its work in Canada, CESO’s 1,200 volunteer advisers also work in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean to strengthen economic infrastructure in both the private sector and public institutions.

The NGO’s work is funded by the government of Canada through Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Global Affairs Canada, private-sector partners, as well as individual donors. One of the organization’s key partners is the RBC Foundation, the program that enabled CESO to support IIS in Pangnirtung.

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