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Kitikmeot needs long-term help

Kent Driscoll
Northern News Services

Cambridge Bay (Nov 20/06) - Fighting addictions in the Kitikmeot region is often a case of making due with what you have.

Cambridge Bay, for example, has only one of four positions filled and in Kugluktuk the lone job has been staffed for just four months.

"You can't afford to get comfortable," said Alice Isnor, the wellness director for Cambridge Bay.

Isnor recently moved her office into the old health centre, or "the new wellness centre," as she puts it.

But she may be lonely for a while as the three positions reporting to her are currently vacant.

"We have had a fairly steady staff, but everything is occurring at the same time," said Isnor.

The reverse is true in Kugluktuk where, after a long wait, the community now has a full-time addictions worker.

Kugluktuk's alcohol and drug co-ordinator, Mike Konstantinou, is still new to the community but he said he's already getting a feel for his new post.

"I've been here since the first week of July," he said. "In those first three months I saw 30 people, and that doesn't include the people at the Ilavut Centre," said Konstantinou.

Ilavut is the Kugluktuk minimum security detention centre for non-violent offenders.

Having worked previously in Taloyoak, Konstantinou is not new to the Kitikmeot.

"I think things are getting worse. What is going on up here is worse than in Taloyoak and alcohol is the major problem," he said.

He paints a bleak portrait of the situation.

"You can see people stumbling through the streets, be it day or night.

"There is major partying happening. The alcohol is out in the open; in other communities it has been more secretive.

"The abuse isn't in plain sight, the hurt people are," he said.

He also knows what he needs to do his job right -1 a place for victims of alcohol-fuelled rage to go where they'll be safe.

"We need a shelter for sure, any kind of shelter -1 women's or youth -1 for those who are trying to get out of abusive surroundings," said Konstantinou.

At the new wellness centre in Cambridge Bay, Isnor's needs revolve around the way her department is funded.

She currently spends 60 per cent of her time doing paper work and only 40 per cent actually treating clients.

"One of the most difficult things for us is we need to write proposals for next year's money," said Isnor. "We are still running programs and we are still trying to fill the need."

Of the four positions at the wellness centre, not one is core funded by the Government of Nunavut.

So every year, Isnor has to apply for the same money from various sources.

"A mutli-year agreement would be wonderful," said Isnor.