True North Calling

Men's group in Iqaluit creates positive space and community

Iqaluit renaissance man Franco Buscemi started the group to provide a positive and productive space for the men of the remote northern community.

Taking Risks – Giving Back to the Community

5 years ago
Duration 1:58
Franco heads a men's volunteer group that meets for breakfast and gathers water for local elders.

The Qanak Men's Group began meeting for breakfasts in October 2015, with the goal of creating a weekly supportive gathering point for men living Iqaluit.

"It's a positive place to gather and contribute to the community through an act of service," says Franco Buscemi, who helped launch the program.

One of the many activities the group participates in is water collecting for elders. Below, Franco describes what the group means to the remote northern community. 

What purpose do you hope this men's group will serve?

The role of men as providers in Inuit society has been lessening for many years through colonization. The men's group is a place where this role can start to be built back up and supported by other men in the community.

What is your average turnout? 
After breakfast, the Qanak Men's Group collects water for elders. (True North Calling)

We have a core of about seven men who show up every week and then another group of about 15 who participate periodically. We've had turnouts as large as 20 but the average is about nine.

Demographic is diverse, some Inuit, some non-Inuit, some long-term residences, some just visit, some new to town. Some fathers have brought their children. We have one father-son duo who come every week.

Other than water collection for elders, what other activities do you do as a group?

In the summer we will get fish from a net we have set, clean and gut the fish and deliver that too. We also have done igloo building and gone out on boat to clam dig. We've also had breakfast meetings and plan to have a brunch and outing at the river open to anyone in the community.

We've done a cleanup of the land in an area where a lot of people go fishing.

We've also gotten involved with some activism, participating in a Take Back the Night March to support the organizers of the National Day Remembrance of Violence Against Women, we participated in the social media campaign to show support to NoDAPL and have had some fun, too making a mannequin challenge video.

Speaking of water collection, how do you test that water for potability?

Experienced hunters have provided knowledge about locations to collect water. The Nunavut Research Institute has tested the water for us. An MLA also secured commitment from the Department of Health to test the water upon request. We've also looked at historic data from past samples tested. And we enjoy the pure refreshing water ourselves.

Meet more inspiring northerners on True North Calling Fridays 8:30 on CBC