Igloolik mom worries as mould problem persists in public housing unit

An Igloolik mother is worried about the mould problem in her home. The Nunavut Housing Corporation had advised people with concerns to contact their local housing authority to get on the remediation list.

'When you have kids, it's worrisome and scary,' says Gwen Siusarnark

Mould is pictured in Gwen Siusarnark's public housing unit. (Joanna Oolateeta)

Photos of a mould-covered Igloolik home caused a stir in the community after they were posted to social media. 

The tenants say the long-standing problem has been reported, but nothing's been done. 

"There is mould all over our house, even so that some of it has become thick. We have called housing to do something about it, but all they do is take pictures," Gwen Siusarnark said in an interview spoken in Inuktitut and translated into English.

"We have been waiting for two years," Siusarnark said. 

Currently, eight people live in the home including the pregnant Siusarnark, her boyfriend and six children who range in age from two to 10. 

"My kids have gotten sick from it, but there's not much we can do," she said. "They've had fevers and flu before and they complain about their breathing because it can be bad sometimes."
Gwen Siusarnark said the mould problem in her home continues to get worse. (Joanna Oolateeta)

It was Joanna Oolateeta, Siusarnark's mother-in-law, who posted the photos on social media. She felt like too much time had passed without action.

"The odour on their clothes was strong. They came to Pond Inlet for Christmas and, as any family member would, I gave them a hug. All I could smell was mould," she said.

Siusarnark hopes to be able to move to a new home without mould — or at the very least have someone remove the mould from their house — before her baby is born. 

"When you have kids, it's worrisome and scary."
Gwen Siusarnark said people often comment on how bad the mould is in her home and that they advise her to contact the Nunavut Housing Corporation. (Jordan Konek/CBC)

Contact local authorities, Housing Corp. says

Mould has been a persistent problem within housing units throughout the territory. 

The Nunavut Housing Corporation says it has spent $7 million to tackle mould problems across the territory since last year. Local housing members from the three regions of Nunavut have been flown to Iqaluit as part of a mould remediation team.

It says it's aware of Siusarnark's situation and will look into it. In the meantime, the Nunavut Housing Corporation advises people to raise complaints with their local housing authority. 

"It will be on the top of the list once the local housing authority has received the training for remediation and it will be dealt with,"said Nunavut Housing Corporation president Terry Audla.

"But I encourage all tenants to bring it to the attention of the local housing authority to ensure that they do get on the list for the purposes of remediation." 
Nunavut Housing Corporation president Terry Audla said tenants should alert local authorities in their community if they have a mould problem to make sure they are put on the list for mould remediation. (Jordan Konek/CBC)

Audla says right now the government is currently focused on mould remediation in Baker Lake and Sanikiluaq.

For those dealing with mould, he said it's important to have proper ventilation in the home, including fans in the washroom and kitchen.

With files from Jordan Konek