December 11, 2023

$45M facility replaces ‘old and deteriorated’ building that dates back to 1979

Aupaluk’s new health centre is officially open, replacing an “old and deteriorated” health centre that dates back to 1979.

The new health centre had been in the works since 2015 because the previous facility was in such a bad state, Jennifer Munick-Watkins, executive director of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, said in a phone interview.

“It was around 136 square metres, and it was so very old and deteriorated,” she said.

“They needed a new complex. It was a very proud moment for the community.”

The new facility, which officially opened last week, is 2,035 square metres in size and cost a little more than $45 million to build. It was funded by Quebec’s health and social services ministry.

The building houses an emergency unit with a resuscitation room, two dental clinics, and space for the youth protection branch and justice services.

Munick-Watkins said there will be a variety of physical rehabilitation and pregnancy postpartum services offered as well.

Its name — Qallisarvik Health Centre — was chosen by the community of Aupaluk.

In speaking with an elder, Munick-Watkins learned the meaning of the name is related to traditional Inuit medicine.

“Back in the day, Inuit used lemming skin to put over a boil so that it sucks out the boil,” she said.

There is a reason that Nunavik’s smallest community’s new health centre is so big, said Munick-Watkins.

“We have a growing population up north,” she said, explaining that often a lot of Nunavik’s infrastructure is at full capacity by the time the project is completed.

“We [now] design them bigger than anticipated, so that we won’t have to knock on the government’s doors again to ask for bigger facilities,” she said.

The Quebec government postponed the health centre’s grand opening from its original date of 2021 due to construction delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, no communities were getting any construction projects done.

Specifically, the health-centre delays were related to construction of housing for 11 workers who would take care of the facility.

The building itself has a unique architectural style. One of the main areas is a cultural room, shaped like an oval with a qulliq in the centre. It is meant for counselling purposes.

Munick-Watkins recalled seeing how happy members of the community were during the centre’s grand opening.

“I can’t wait to have this in all 13 remaining communities,” she said.



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