On October 26, the non-profit organization Qavvivik Inuit Family and Community Health Centre unveiled its new space in Verdun which will provide and facilitate access to services that are culturally adapted, safe and responsible to the Inuit community. Members of the public were invited to visit, share some Inuit cuisine and learn more about the services on offer including assistance with navigating the healthcare system.

“There is so much stereotyping and profiling. You hear it all the time from our members, when they go to get healthcare, they are not treated justly or fairly,” said Carolyn Stone, Qavvivik project co-lead and Interim Executive Director.

Access to healthcare for Montreal’s Inuit community could improve with upcoming clinic

The Inuit population living in greater Montreal is increasing and, for many, their first language is Inuktitut. Even if a family member or translator is available to accompany them to a medical appointment, it is not always straightforward.

“It is vitally important for Inuit who live in the Montreal region to have access to safe healthcare. The Qavvivik Inuit Family and Community Health Centre is an important part of creating pathways to that. We’ll work as a partner to healthcare institutions to support our Inuit community members,” said Richard Budgell, Inuk Professor at the Department of Family Medicine and President of Qavvivik.

The organization is in the process of creating a permanent health clinic and service centre for Inuit in Southern Quebec. They are currently looking for space to offer medical and nursing services, community health (vaccinations, well-baby checkups, sexual health counselling, etc), family support, mental health, addictions, healing and other services.

“My family have told me horror stories about going to hospitals and being kicked out and escorted by security. It’s just to give them what everyone else has, respectful and equal healthcare,” added Carolyn Stone.

To learn more about the Qavvivik Inuit Family and Community Health Centre, visit their website: https://www.qavvivik.ca/

About Richard Budgell

Richard Budgell is a Labrador Inuk and lectures, writes and researches on Inuit health. Prior to joining McGill University’s Department of Family Medicine, he was a federal government public servant in First Nations and Inuit health, and other Indigenous fields, for more than thirty years. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 for exemplary public service in his role in the creation of the Aboriginal Head Start program, an early childhood development program for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and families. He has a Master of Arts degree in Canadian Studies (Aboriginal concentration) from Carleton University and began doctoral studies in History at McGill in 2021. He is involved in a variety of research projects, including Inuit cultural safety in health care and the Inuit community in southern Quebec. Prof. Budgell was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine in 2020.