GN won’t renew contract with Chesterfield Inlet group home operator

The Government of Nunavut is not renewing its contract with the operator of a Chesterfield Inlet group home where the deaths of two young people are under investigation, says Family Services Minister Margaret Nakashuk.

The controversy surrounding Naja Isabelle Home resurfaced at the legislative assembly Friday when Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA Alexander Sammurtok questioned Nakashuk for the second day over the issue.

Operated by Pimakslirvik Corp., the Naja Isabelle home provides services to people under 40 with specialized medical needs.

The deaths of two residents, ages 12 and 19, prompted the RCMP, Nunavut coroner and GN to investigate. The deaths occurred in January and last October, respectively.

Their names have not been released.

During Thursday’s proceedings, Sammurtok called on the GN to be transparent about the investigations and asked that residents be patient and not spread rumours while authorities look into the deaths.

On Friday, Sammurtok said he learned the previous day that the GN was not renewing its contract with Pimakslirvik Corp. He asked Nakashuk to confirm whether that was true.

“I have had correspondence with the Pimakslirvik Corp., and we also sent a letter indicating that March 31, 2024 is the end of their deadline, and that we will not be renewing the contract at that time,” Nakashuk responded.

She didn’t offer an explanation for the decision but said the GN is “committed” to it.

Nunatsiaq News sent Casey Lessard, a spokesperson for the Department of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, questions about the contract with Pimakslirvik Corp. and why it won’t be renewed, and asked for information about possible alternative placements for Naja Isabelle residents.

Lessard had not provided answers as of Friday evening.

As well, Pimakslirvik Corp. has not responded to requests for comment sent by email and phone.

“A number of residents of the community of Chesterfield Inlet are employed at Naja Isabelle home, and their jobs and reputations [are on the] line; they too deserve open and honest communication about the situation,” Sammurtok said in the legislature.

He asked Nakashuk if she would provide a full report at the “earliest possible time.”

“In regards to staff, we will take them into consideration because they have been trained to take care of the clients,” Nakashuk said.

“We will make a report. With the investigation going on, we can’t talk about the subjects at this time.”

Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News