For many years, we have heard and seen the slogan, “It takes a community to raise a child” and many awareness programs and projects have mobilized communities to take on this task all around the world.
For regions such as Nunavik, this has proven to be a challenge as many children continue to be in the foster care system and despite best efforts of concerned organizations and individuals, it is not easy to mobilize communities for the well-being of children.
That being said, we are seeing more and more stress amongst the youth and their fragile mental state.
Following the 2007 Human Rights Commission and Youth Protection Report, many initiatives were put in place in Nunavik to address the recommendations concerning children and youth. The Regional Partnership Committee which was created following a Kativik School Board Symposium “Leading the Way for Our Children” in 2005 brought together all major organizations to work on mobilizing local and regional leaders to take on this important task collectively.
In 2010, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) initiated the Clinical Project, now known as Ilusilirinirmi Pigutjiutinik Qimirruniq IPQ (Reviewing health services), by inviting partners from all sectors to sit on three advisory committees to address the issues of mental health, addictions and Youth in Difficulty. These three committees, led and chaired by Inuit, had the task of making recommendations to the Board of the NRBHSS, which were approved in December of 2013.
The implementation of these recommendations are now ongoing and funding has been attached to them allowing the service establishments to hire more resources to address needs of Nunavimmiut.
The Advisory Committee on Mental Health focussed on suicide prevention to be a top priority. One of their recommendations was to create a permanent Regional Suicide Prevention Committee, which now exists today. This committee ensures that other recommendations are addressed in a timely fashion and it is also responsible for implementing one of the major recommendations which called for the creation of an Annual Suicide Prevention and Healing Conference specific to Nunavik.
In 2015, the Puttautiit (meaning flotation device in Inuktitut) Annual Suicide Prevention and Healing Conference was launched in Puvirnituq, Quebec. This week-long event was attended by over one hundred Nunavimmiut who took part in different workshops focussing on developing skills to be more willing, prepared and able to intervene with someone at risk, gaining a better understanding of the effects of how traumatic history has affected Inuit, and to have access to tools and space for healing.
Puttautiit 2016 took place in Kuujjuaq, Quebec, last October. Over 70 participants from Nunavik took part in workshops dealing with Decolonization, Honouring our Grief, Safe Talk, Addictions, Sexual Abuse and Healing.
Nunavik has a reason to be proud of this accomplishment. This six-day event was organized and facilitated by Inuit for Inuit, with all workshops conducted only in Inuktitut. People came away from this conference with renewed hope, knowing they have strength in numbers.
Changes take time. It takes a vision and planning to reach a goal. This is only one of many goals that we had set out to attain. There are yet many more that we have to achieve. We can do this collectively, by not dwelling on what has been done to us but by focussing on what we can do for us.
For more information on the IPQ, visit: www.ipqnunavik.com.
Executive Director Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services