Pijunnaqunga – Winter 2021

Since March 2020, the Pijunnaqunga team has reorganized itself to provide remote internship services. Considering the program is managed from Montreal, the adjustment went smoothly. However, the travel restrictions limiting the team’s access to Nunavik have been the true challenge, since these imply not being able to do in‑person recruitment or carry out our training. Neither can we meet with organizations to develop internships or support the integration of our internships in person. The circumstances of COVID-19 and remote work also complicate the internships themselves, since these require the presence of the mentor in the office, as well as adding a new intern to the team. This is not always possible in the context of the pandemic, since mentors often work remotely or the office setup does not allow for the required social distancing and sanitary measures for an extra person. Despite it all, the Pijunnaqunga team has shown innovation and creativity in offering the program services during the pandemic.

One of our great successes happened in November 2020, when the Pijunnaqunga team was able to host its first training down south, in Montreal, within the context of sanitary restrictions. The premises used, kindly provided by the Ivirtivik center, had to be specially configured to respect social distancing measures (two meters distance or plexiglass). The training required many modifications; almost all the activities usually carried out during training had to be reimagined in order to respect the imposed measures and space and material available. This edition turned out to be a real success, with seven participants confirming their presence (which was much more than we expected). Of these seven participants, six participated and four completed the entire training. Due to the pandemic, the dates for our next training for Nunavimmiut living in Nunavik still remain unknown.

The pandemic has also, unfortunately, forced us to postpone our internships. Among others, internships expected to take place at the NRBHSS, CBC North and Youth Fusion had to be pushed back to a later date. However, even with the restrictions related to COVID-19 and travel restrictions to Nunavik, the Pijunnaqunga team has been able to keep in touch with the organizations and pursue internship development activities, as well as try to figure out innovative ways to host activities within the context of the pandemic.

About Pijunnaqunga

Pijunnaqunga is an internship program that aims to empower Inuit from all over Nunavik to develop their skills through hands-on work experience. The program includes in-depth interviews, an intensive training session, and paid internships with mentoring support within Nunavik organizations