Canadian Association for Supported Employment

MentorAbility Canada Hub Highlight Series

Every month, MentorAbility Canada proudly presents one of our implementing partners. They are the MentorAbility coordinators—the backstage workers who quietly go about their tasks to ensure that job seekers, employers, and service providers can shine in the spotlight.

Learning and Observing to Acquire New Skills:
The Power of Mentoring in Nunavut

Nunavut, with its cultural and geographical diversity, offers a fertile ground for mentoring, an important element of Inuit culture where mentoring is a way of learning and working together. But how can mentoring support persons experiencing disability and employers to create inclusive and diverse workplaces?

MentorAbility is a national initiative that promotes the inclusive employment of persons experiencing disability through mentoring. The program offers mentoring activities tailored to the needs and interests of individuals, networking and learning events, as well as a network of local partners and committed mentors.  

In Nunavut, Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtiit Society (NDMS) is the MentorAbility Hub that coordinates the MentorAbility program.

NDMS is a non-profit organization that supports the Nunavummiut population facing barriers to social participation. NDMS considers both the Inuit and disability context in all aspects of its work. NDMS partners with the Canadian Association for Supported Employment’s MentorAbility initiative to offer mentoring opportunities to persons who experience disability and employers in the territory.  

Lisa Spencer is the MentorAbility Coordinator for the initiative in Nunavut. Lisa is passionate about social justice, continuous learning, meaningful relationship, and inclusion of people who live diverse experiences.

Hub Highlight - MentorAbility Nunavut. Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtiit Society (NDMS) logo.
“Mentoring is an important part of Inuit culture. Mentoring is about learning and observing to gain new skills. Mentoring is about working together. NDMS supports initiatives such as supported employment that include mentoring.

"NDMS has partnered with the Canadian Association’s MentorAbility initiative to continue bringing mentoring to Nunavummiut. We hope to raise awareness of disability while respecting the unique context of the territory.” 

Lisa Spencer, MentorAbility Coordinator in Nunavut

Lisa met with a member of the Inuit community who experiences disability. Here are his reflections on inclusive employment, mentoring, and mutual learning:

“Mentorship is about mutually beneficial relationships. Inuit have much to offer the western world and in return Inuit can learn from the experience too. (…) We like mentorship because it unites us to create understanding. We take care of each other here. When things don’t work it is not about fault or blame; it’s about opportunity.”

Lisa and the team at NDMS are working hard to engage the community, including employers, to continue the journey of connection and learning in Nunavut. Employment opportunities can be difficult to find in remote communities. NDMS believes that short-term mentorships may help break the stigma of disability as well as establish meaningful relationships with employers across the territory. NDMS says these relationships take time, but it is worth it to build a trusting relationship.

Lisa Spencer recently presented elements of intersectionality in an Inuit context at the Redefining Disability Conference organized by ODEN in November 2023. She shared her perspective on supporting employment in Nunavut communities in an interview with Dave Brown, host of the show “Now” on AMI platforms.  

If you want to learn more about the MentorAbility program, the work of NDMS, and the testimony of Lisa Spencer, visit the following websites: MentorAbility Hubs,  NDMS, and AMI. 

To learn more about Inuit societal values, you can read this Government of Nunavut brochure (available in four languages).