Tungasuvvingat Inuit


Tungasuvvingat Inuit is a multi-sector hub for Inuit of all ages, whether they have just started unravelling the challenges of navigating urban living in The South, or staying connected to their culture in The North.

Why Tungasuvvingat Inuit? Tungasuvvingat Inuit is an Inuit-specific, provincial service provider that provides social support, cultural activities, counselling and crisis intervention as a one-stop resource centre to meet the rapidly growing, complex and evolving needs of Inuit in Ontario. Tungasuvvingat Inuit is a registered, charitable, not-for-profit organization, offering more than 20 highly integrated, front-line services. The agency is the only Inuit-specific service organization of its kind in urban Canada offering support through the entire life cycle. Tungasuvvingat Inuit has over 30 years of highly successful experience in crafting the design, development and delivery of a wide range of effective, client-centered services. With about 30 per cent of Inuit now living outside of The North,Tungasuvvingat Inuit is recognized as a leading advocate for urban Inuit and is prominent within the framework of national Inuit organizations. Our comprehensive agency is a respected leader and the primary model for Inuit-specific service delivery, working in both urban and non-urban settings. We partner with over 60 Inuit and non-Inuit organizations. Tungasuvvingat Inuit is called on to provide advice and support on Inuit topics to other agencies across the country; such as courts, hospitals, schools and social services agencies. We offer them information on Inuit culture and values, resources for Inuit-specific programming, an understanding of Inuit rights in the city and information on labour market engagement including financial assistance for Inuit post-secondary students and employment and training opportunities. The majority of Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s staff is Inuit. The organization serves a critical and invaluable role in the education, training and development of high-performing Inuit professionals. Tungasuvvingat Inuit prides itself on a rich history of community development. With limited Inuit specific resources available, several Tungasuvvingat Inuit projects have evolved into standalone Inuit service providers, enriching the options for Inuit needs to be met and strengthening the community voice. Beyond Ottawa and across southern Canada, TI has been working with Inuit in many cities to help strengthen and develop local capacity to better meet the needs of Inuit. Our agency has received mainstream recognition as a centre of excellence in several of our programs. Tungasuvvingat Inuit is supported by more than a dozen public and private funders, including all levels of government. We are governed by an elected, volunteer Board of Directors, consisting broadly of community leaders from across the province committed to fulfilling our vision.

Our Purpose

Like the traditional Inuit Blanket-Toss Game, Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s programs and services will “catch” anyone in the Inuit community who needs our support. Interconnected and holistic in approach, our services offer barrier-free referrals centered on the needs of the client. It is the Mission of Tungasuvvingat Inuit to broadly provide Inuit-specific programs that contribute to the health and wellbeing of Inuit and to encourage and support similar programs for Inuit across the country. Inuit constitute one of the fastest-growing and youngest segments of the Canadian population, with half of all Inuit aged 23 years or younger and more than one-third 15 years or younger. Inuit are more likely to achieve success when being served by fellow Inuit, enjoying the choice of speaking their first language of Inuktitut or English. The deep integration of our programs is the key to our “community of services.” When Inuit access any of our services, they immediately become aware of a wide spectrum of other services that also are available. Our mandate is to assist Inuit in adjusting to Southern urban culture, to provide vocational and employment guidance and to assist with family and personal difficulties. We counsel those requesting assistance with trauma-and-addiction issues and provide personal financial management information and counselling. We facilitate community cultural and recreational programs that include traditional Inuit “country food”, such as seal, caribou, and arctic char. Tungasuvvingat Inuit also provides confidential services for children, youth and elders; housing support; Inuktitut language education and cultural programs promoting individual and community healing. Simply providing a welcoming, culturally relevant place for Inuit to relax with other Inuit, savour a cup of tea, and converse in Inuktitut, is crucial to the well-being of the rapidly growing urban community. Our core values are anchored in the traditional principles of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ), the Inuit way of “knowing.” These resilience-building principles invoke: respecting others, relationships and caring for people; fostering good spirit by being open, welcoming and inclusive; and serving and providing for family and community. IQ also calls for decision-making through discussion and consensus; development of skills through mentoring, practice and effort; working together for a common cause; being innovative and resourceful; and having respect and care for the land, animals and the environment.

Our History

Ontario’s Inuit population has grown from less than 100 in 1987 to an estimated 3,500 today. The vast majority live in the National Capital area, making it the largest Inuit community outside of The North. And the vast majority of these people have accessed Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s services. Establishing improved data on Inuit outside of the National Capital Region is a priority and we expect the number of Inuit to be much higher across Ontario than current data supports. Tungasuvvingat Inuit was incorporated in 1987 to provide support for Inuit in Ontario, with an original funding base of $80,000 and 1.5 full-time staff. Now, over 30 years later, Tungasuvvingat Inuit has a staff of 62 and has grown in size and scope to respond to the increasing and evolving needs of Urban Inuit. Tungasuvvingat Inuit was established in Ottawa as the result of an Inuit needs-assessment study. The study clearly demonstrated the necessity of a service geared to the unique cultural requirements of Inuit, assisting them in making the huge adjustment from Northern life to Southern urban living. Urban migration of Inuit from The North has been accelerating ever since. Tungasuvvingat Inuit sponsored the Head Start Children’s Program at Tungasuvvingat Inuit from 1997 to 2006, when the program was transferred to the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre. In 2002, after 13 years of operating outreach programs for the homeless, Tungasuvvingat Inuit created the Mamisarvik Healing Centre to deliver trauma-and-addiction treatment. The move followed an initial transition housing project for the homeless set up the previous year. Mamisarvik’s co-ed, eight-week, treatment program began operations in 2003. Inuit from seven Canadian cities met in Ottawa in 2005 for a conference organized by Tungasuvvingat Inuit entitled “National Urban Inuit – One Voice.” It was the first nation-wide gathering of urban Inuit advocates ever held. When TI organized the first Mamisarniq (Healing) Conference in Ottawa in 2006, it was believed to be the first time 45 Northern and Southern front-line, trauma-and-addiction workers were able to meet and network. Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s second Mamisarniq Conference was held the following year near Gracefield, QC. In 2009 Tungasuvvingat Inuit launched a major program offering havens of support and mentoring for Inuit youth in Edmonton, Yellowknife, Winnipeg, Montreal and St. John’s, funded by Heritage Canada. In 2010, work began on forming a partnership between Tungasuvvingat Inuit and Correctional Service Canada (CSC) to provide trauma-and-addiction services to Inuit on parole. Now CSC can place Inuit in the Mamisarvik residential treatment program. The award-winning Tungasuvvingat Inuit Family Health Team began delivering culturally appropriate, primary health care in 2011. Its operations were transferred to the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team in January, 2015. One of Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s most active current focuses is developing a deeper relationship with the Government of Ontario. Inuit are fast becoming a significant part of the Aboriginal population in Ontario. As the Ontario regional provider for Inuit, Tungasuvvingat Inuit works with other Inuit organizations, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal service providers, and government to ensure policies, programs and services are accessible and responsive to Inuit needs.