Lillian Elias of Inuvik describes the elements of her language during a forum to discuss a unified writing system for Inuktut. The work is being funded by the Counselling Foundation of Canada. ©ITK
By Terry Audla, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
When footage of Inuit feeding their families with food from local dumps made it to the evening news a short while ago, the issue of food security suddenly became real for many Canadians living in the south. In the days that followed, many Canadians joined online discussion groups to learn more about the issue. Some formed a network to send food packages directly to food banks and families in need. Interestingly, a number of others clicked the donate button at www.itk.ca to help us develop Inuit-driven solutions to social policy needs.
The economic reality of the 21st century is that government is not funding Aboriginal policy development in the way it has throughout much of ITK’s history. Notably, ITK’s federal funding has declined nearly 50 per cent since 2011-12. To continue doing the work that we do, we must diversify our funding sources, adding new productive alliances. In the non-profit world, funding must come not just from government but also from charitable foundations, private individuals and corporations.
ITK is entering this new fiscal future with a strong base of partnership successes. Our work to investigate the feasibility of a unified writing system for Inuktut has been funded since 2011 by the Counselling Foundation of Canada, a family-run organization established in 1959 by Frank G. Lawson, a stockbroker who was committed to developing human potential and helped establish what is now the United Way.
We’re proud to work with the Lawson family and we’re proud of the work that we’re doing with their support.
Similarly, we have been fortunate to partner with the estate of a lifelong community volunteer and social worker with a deep commitment to libraries. The bequest has helped support an online resource collection of Inuit early childhood education materials allowing educators across Inuit Nunangat to share limited resources.
Inuit have historically been a self-reliant people, and ITK is working to become self reliant as well. By outlining our programs and future plans, we hope to motivate private donors to invest, encourage volunteers and even re-energize ourselves. Ultimately, we know that long-term change for Inuit must be led by Inuit, and this is as true in policy development addressing food security, access to health care and wildlife management practices as it is for creating a culture of philanthropy.