Canadian Association for Supported Employment

CASE Member Spotlight

Breaking Barriers: Empowering Futures at ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre

The ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre’s commitment to empowering Indigenous and Northern youth and adults and persons living with disabilities is a cornerstone of the organization’s model and approach. Since 2012, ilinniapaa, based in Iqaluit, has reached over 2,500 clients who have earned a total of more than 5,500 accredited certificates. 

Through innovative programs, personalized support, and strategic partnerships, the ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre has created pathways to meaningful employment and brighter futures for participants and communities alike.

Logo - Ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre - also written in Inuktitut. An orange circle inside of which is a person with a spiral head that is reaching up with one hand to touch a star.

Could you describe a brief highlight of your current offerings?

As a proud member of the Canadian Association for Supported Employment (CASE), ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre has been instrumental in delivering impactful programs for Inuit and Northern youth with disabilities. Over the past four years, we have successfully implemented the Federal Youth Employment Skills Strategy (YESS) program, supporting 138 youth through a comprehensive training and work placement initiative. 

YESS Program Results

80%+ retained employment post-program

Approximately 15% chose to further their education

Our program includes a three-week accredited skills training, followed by an eight-week wage subsidy work placement within their communities. Participants 15 to 30 years old receive $16/hour during the training period and additional support—childcare stipends, transportation assistance, and PPE (personal protective equipment)/work clothing—ensuring a strong foundation for employment.

Our partners included Canadian North, Nunavut Law Society, Canada Post, hamlet government departments, and NGOs. 

Beyond Employment: ilinniapaa's Holistic Journey to Success

What sets ilinniapaa apart is our holistic approach to supported employment, shaped by our extensive experience working with individuals facing complex challenges, including human trafficking, trauma, brain injury, and substance use disorders. Using tools like the Employment Readiness Scale (ERS) and Insights Discovery, coupled with Indigenous cultural collaboration, we provide personalized, one-on-one support that considers individual circumstances to address participants’ diverse needs. 

Programs are designed to be flexible, person-centred, and strengths-based, acknowledging the impact of social determinants of health on employment and education outcomes. Indigenous values and culture are incorporated to create customized programs that meet both the core competencies of jobs and the needs of learners.

The Future Vision of ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre

ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre is committed to further expanding its impact both within the organization and in the broader community. 

Expansion of Accredited Courses and Programs: Building upon the success of our accredited Inuit Community Support Worker diploma program, tailored programs will be offered that meet the needs of Inuit communities across Canada. With a steady outmigration of Inuit to urban centers, the demand for skilled workers in addictions, mental health, and social services is growing. Our professional training allows Inuit with lived experience and disabilities to work in the field safely while being supported.

Youth Empowerment Initiatives: We seek to expand our YESS program for another four years to reach youth living with disabilities in Nunavut, Nunavik, Montreal, and Ontario. Through collaboration with local partners, comprehensive training and employment opportunities tailored to the unique needs of each region will be provided.

National Reach and Ownership: With a recent shift to majority Inuit ownership, ilinniapaa is poised to further expand its reach and impact on a national scale. Over the next decade, we aspire to become a leading organization in supported employment, advocating for inclusivity and empowerment across Canada.

Member spotlight -ilinniapaa art smaller

“ilinniapaa” submitted by Helen Roos

Did You Know?

“ilinniapaa” is an Inuktitut word that embodies the exhilarating journey of striving to learn and the electrifying moment when understanding sparks excitement and ignites transformation. 

ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre is about creating those “aha” moments, where learning becomes thrilling and empowers individuals to make meaningful connections. 

For more information, visit their website: ilinniapaa Skills Development Centre (iSDC) 

Stay tuned for more monthly member spotlights highlighting organizations that are making a difference in their communities! To share what your organization has been up to, contact our National Member Engagement Coordinator: [email protected]