Muckpaloo Ipeelie CEO Urban Inuit Identity Project
The inspiration to create the Urban Inuit Identity Project began when I as an urban Inuk I wanted to regain connection to my Inuit culture. As a young woman, I sought support from my local Native Friendship Centre, but when I went there, I found that they did not have the background to assist me in connecting to my Inuit roots. Although they assisted me the best way they could through a First Nations lens which I appreciated, still I felt something was missing. Later I went to college to become a Medical Laboratory Technologist and there I also sought Indigenous support from my college. They too offered assistance, I felt supported from First Nations elders but I was straying away from my culture by learning and encompassing a new one. I started to research on my own about what it meant to be Inuk and started to find resources outside of my municipality to help me do that.
One day during college, our class was given 3 hours to learn about the 12 Determinants of Health for Canadians and we discussed why some Canadians didn’t have the same access to health care. We talked about small Indigenous communities and about the lack of resources they had. This was the only day we talked about our Indigenous people in my 3 year course. We did not talk about residential schools, the 60’s scoop, suicides’ amongst our Indigenous population, genocide and intergenerational trauma and substance abuse that is prevalent with our Indigenous people. As a new up and coming health care professional, I thought as Canadians, all health care workers need to know about our Canadian History with Indigenous people. Health care workers should provide compassionate care illuminated by cultural sensitivity, empathy and an understanding about our Canadian past. This will help break stereotypes, systemic racism and inevitably lead to better health outcomes for our Indigenous people.
As an urban Inuk I enjoyed learning about other cultures and comparing the First Nations perspective to my ancestral Inuit culture. I wanted to continue to build Indigenous friendships, meaningful relationships and continue to be part of the community. I began teaching Inuit Culture to add to my community and advocate for better Inuit social supports.
I have continued to help bridge the gap in health care, Friendship, educational centers, social services and at the institutional level through my advocacy in teaching cultural uniqueness of Inuit, and empowering Inuit Identity.
Urban Inuit Identity Project Goals
The Urban Inuit Identity Project’s purpose is to provide culturally relevant educational materials for health care workers and community builders who are involved in the circle of care of Inuit.
Truth and Reconciliation
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called upon the federal government to acknowledge the distinct and unique health needs of Indigenous people including Inuit. Calls to Action 18-24 share the same goals that the Urban Inuit Identity Project (UIIP) wishes to see achieved in Canada’s health care system. We support these calls to action by providing Inuit Cultural Consulting resources in the form of presentations, power points, videos, statistics, and continuous educational materials to hospitals, colleges and universities for medical students. We also will use voices from Inuit to highlight the gaps in health care and other social services who have a direct impact in the success of urban Inuit.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Calls to Action 18-24 for Health
18. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to acknowledge that the current state of Aboriginal health in Canada is a direct result of previous Canadian government policies, including residential schools, and to recognize and implement the health-care rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law, constitutional law, and under the Treaties.
19. We call upon the federal government, in consultation with Aboriginal peoples, to establish measurable goals to identify and close the gaps in health outcomes Calls to Action between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, and to publish annual progress reports and assess longterm trends. Such efforts would focus on indicators such as: infant mortality, maternal health, suicide, mental health, addictions, life expectancy, birth rates, infant and child health issues, chronic diseases, illness and injury incidence, and the availability of appropriate health services.
20. In order to address the jurisdictional disputes concerning Aboriginal people who do not reside on reserves, we call upon the federal government to recognize, respect, and address the distinct health needs of the Métis, Inuit, and off-reserve Aboriginal peoples.
21. We call upon the federal government to provide sustainable funding for existing and new Aboriginal healing centres to address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools, and to ensure that the funding of healing centres in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories is a priority.
22. We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.
23. We call upon all levels of government to: Increase the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health-care field. ii. Ensure the retention of Aboriginal health-care providers in Aboriginal communities. iii. Provide cultural competency training for all healthcare professionals.
24. We call upon medical and nursing schools in Canada to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.