Yellowknife businesses, still struggling with new normal, make room for workers with disabilities

·2 min read

It's been a tough slog for Inclusion NWT.

The small non-profit, based in Yellowknife, aims to find work and volunteer opportunities for people with disabilities. At the start of the pandemic, the work dried up.

"It disappeared completely in mid-March, and much of it has never come back," said executive director Lynn Elkin.

Right now, they have about 22 clients looking for things to do.

Submitted by Inclusion NWT
Submitted by Inclusion NWT

The organization issued a press release this week thanking a number of businesses who've managed to include an Inclusion NWT client in their workplace — not easy, given physical distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions.

"We are just so thankful for the small businesses because they help people move on from sort of odd job work into moving into a job of their own," Elkin said.

Submitted by Inclusion NWT
Submitted by Inclusion NWT

Luthfun Nahar owns Rebecca's Flowers. Inclusion NWT client Justine Cuvelier has been coming to her shop for the past 10 weeks, cutting stems, changing water and greeting customers.

"She's wonderful," said Nahar. "She takes my direction and she knows what to do for her whole day and she gets it done."

Submitted by Inclusion NWT
Submitted by Inclusion NWT

Other clients have done everything from lawn care to shoveling snow to cleaning and sanitizing. A new program has people doing paper shredding.

"The goal is not to have people just sitting at home," Elkin said. "These are people who are great workers, they make a great contribution, work hard at the work they do and they have a right to be out working."

Submitted by Inclusion NWT
Submitted by Inclusion NWT

Even working half an hour once a week can be a contribution, Elkin said.

"It doesn't have to be a full time job… to really make a contribution and to allow someone to show what they can do," Elkin said.

"Ideally what we want is for people to be employed just like everybody else."

Submitted by Inclusion NWT
Submitted by Inclusion NWT

Right now 14 people are finding work through the program.

The businesses thanked in the press release include: Arctic Response, CDETNO, Collective Soul, Copperhouse Restaurant, Crowe MacKay LLP, Diamond Drycleaners, Gallery of the Midnight Sun, Javaroma, Kingpin Bowling Centre, La Fédération franco-ténoise, Northern Images, Rebecca's Flowers, Remax, the Salvation Army, Vinnie's Thrift Store, the Yellowknife Curling Club and the Yellowknife Daycare Association.