Toronto's first official Inuit group providing support to newcomers

An Inuk man has started Toronto’s first official Inuit group, called Inuit of Toronto Urban Katimavvik, as a way to make life easier for Inuit moving to the big city.

Inuit of Toronto Urban Katimavvik offers job, education, language supports

Inuit of Toronto Urban Katimavvik, or iTUK, is Toronto's first official Inuit group. About 60 Inuit got together Dec. 17 for its second annual Christmas feast, complete with country food. (Veronica E. Puskas)

An Inuk man has started Toronto's first official Inuit group, as a way to make life easier for Inuit moving to the big city.

Rob Lackie, who's from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, moved to Toronto 15 years ago and says there weren't any education or job supports for Inuit. And he wasn't alone.

"A lot of people that I've come across, they have problems with housing or even just the language," Lackie says. "They don't have a lot of English."

He started the group Inuit of Toronto Urban Katimavvik, or iTUK.

"We decided that we should start an organization to support the Inuit for shelter and for education needs and financial needs."

Lackie believes about 1,300 Inuit are living in Toronto, many of whom could use support.

"How do you apply for funding for post secondary education? Where do you go to look for work? How about housing? We don't have any kind of services like that here in Toronto," Lackie says.

'If you build it they will come'

The new group has been working with an already established organization in Ottawa, called Tungasuvvingat Inuit. It provides social support, career counselling, cultural activities and crisis intervention for Inuit in Ottawa, which is the largest Inuit community outside of the North.

Inuit of Toronto Urban Katimavvik hopes to offer the same array of programming.

"It's one of those, if you build it they will come," Lackie says.

"I think that's why Ottawa has so many different services and that Inuit go to Ottawa because they have several different agencies that provide support.

"Toronto not having any, it's not as attractive. But we're trying to change that."

Lackie says they're applying to become incorporated so the group can get funding from the government. The group worked with Tungasuvvingat Inuit on its business plan.

"We're working on a strategy with them on how we can unite the southern communities so that people coming from the North know where they can go," he says.

"We're trying to develop the network so that it's the same wherever you go, whether you're going to Winnipeg or Montreal or even Toronto."