Disbanded more than a decade ago, Yellowknife Inuit Association could be rebuilt

More than a dozen people came out to a meeting over the weekend to brainstorm ideas for getting the group off the ground.

Suzie Napayok helped organize weekend meeting where people discussed challenges Inuit face in city

Suzie Napayok helped organize this weekend's meeting to discuss reviving a local Yellowknife Inuit organization. (Kirsten Fenn/CBC)

A group of Inuit living in Yellowknife are hoping to recreate an organization that will help them connect with one another and access resources in the city.

More than a dozen people came out to a meeting at Northern United Place over the weekend to brainstorm how to get the idea off the ground.

"We plan on recreating Yellowknife Inuit Association," said Suzie Napayok, who helped organize the weekend meeting.

Napayok said she used to serve as president of the Yellowknife Inuit Association before it disbanded around the early 2000s.

"When I was the president for that time, we organized Inuit get-togethers, sewing groups, feasts and just time together," she said. "But eventually it faded out."

Now, Napayok hopes Inuit in Yellowknife will be able to create a non-profit organization similar to the association she led before.

She said federal funding could be a way to hire Inuit staff to serve the needs of the community, something she said would be a "tremendous" feat.

People who attended the meeting expressed a number of their own ideas about why an Inuit organization would be beneficial — from helping people access mental health or spiritual supports, to guiding those who are just arriving in the city for the first time.

Napayok said having a place where Inuit can connect could "make a lot of difference" for those moving from their home communities to an unfamiliar place.

"You go through culture shock from community living into city living," she said.

Several people raised concerns about homelessness and addictions, and the need to provide a support system for Inuit who are facing those difficulties.

They also expressed interest in having a centralized place where Inuit can go to meet one another and speak their own language.

While it's early days, Napayok said she is "really excited" about the prospect of reviving an organization for Inuit in Yellowknife.

"That would be a huge step," she said.