Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut October 05, 2018 - 9:30 am

Improved mental health, infrastructure top western Nunavut mayors’ wish list

Tele-health, docks, ports and paved airstrips among priorities

JANE GEORGE
Kitikmeot mayors pose with Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq and three government ministers who came to the recent Kitikmeot mayors meeting in Cambridge Bay. Cambridge Bay's mayor Pamela Gross said some of the mayors' concerns were brought up more than once with the premier and ministers, so
Kitikmeot mayors pose with Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq and three government ministers who came to the recent Kitikmeot mayors meeting in Cambridge Bay. Cambridge Bay's mayor Pamela Gross said some of the mayors' concerns were brought up more than once with the premier and ministers, so "our word got to be heard," she said. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GN)

When mayors from western Nunavut met last month in Cambridge Bay, from Sept. 18 to Sept. 20, improved mental health services were among their top demands.

“Mental health issues are increasing in the Kitikmeot communities, and the level of services are unable to address these increasing needs,” states a resolution passed by the mayors.

For the mayor of Gjoa Haven, Joanni Sallerina, the previous month had brought more than enough heartbreak to his community of about 1,300 people.

Two men died in Gjoa Haven when their all-terrain vehicle rolled over.

As well, a father and his son drowned, and an elder died.

And while there are mental health services in Cambridge Bay, this community and the broader Kitikmeot region could use more support, Mayor Pamela Gross told Nunatsiaq News.

“We want mental health services in schools and all health facilities,” she said.

To that end, Gross and the other mayors asked the Government of Nunavut to increase the number of mental health workers in all Kitikmeot communities and create access to tele-health for counselling sessions.

Infrastructure was another big concern of the mayors. They said they want to see, among other things, a marine laydown area and airstrip improvements in all of the region’s five communities.

They said these are needed because the amount of freight by sealift has increased, while space for storage of offloaded materials and supplies isn’t sufficient.

In Cambridge Bay, it’s chaos when a barge arrives to offload on the shore, close to the centre of the town of about 1,700—as was the case during the mayors’ meeting, Gross said.

“We need a (marine laydown) location further away,” she said—and a dock.

As well, the mayors said marine infrastructure needs have changed due to the increased number of oversized ships and sealift traffic.

So they want Nunavut’s Department of Economic Development and Transportation to work with them to assess marine infrastructure needs, “including the potential of a deep-sea port and develop an appropriate plan over a reasonable time frame”—like the Grays Bay road and port project, which Kitikmeot promoters plan to bring up once again with Nunavut legislators later this month.

The region’s mayors also said their community runways could be inadequate in the future, if the aircraft used for medevacs are changed to those that require paved runways.

So the mayors have also asked the Department of Economic Development and Transportation to prepare an assessment and plan for the paving of all Kitikmeot runways.

Infrastructure wasn’t the only issue on the table—so were the needs of people: with the older population increasing in every Kitikmeot community, the level of health care is not keeping up to the needs of all age groups, the mayors said.

The mayors asked the GN to provide additional nursing staff at the health centres to improve the level of care and prevent burnout in nurses.

The need for elders’ facilities also came up, as it did in the last sitting of the Nunavut legislature when Kugluktuk’s MLA often raised the need for an elder-care facility in her community.

The mayors said the number of elders is increasing in the Kitikmeot communities, while home care cannot support growing demand. That’s prompted the mayors to ask the Department of Health to build elder-care facilities in Kugluktuk, Taloyoak, and Kugaaruk.

The mayors also worried about the care of the deceased people.

They say the Health Department needs to better define and develop policies and procedures for the handling and care of the deceased from the time of pick-up to the time of burial.

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(5) Comments:

#1. Posted by Mental health treatment- a joke in NU on October 05, 2018

These mayors have raised important issues -one can only hope the GN will actually do something about them. 
Inadequate or completely lacking Mental Health support in Kitikmeot communities is an issue that is of serious concern for many communities. I implore the GN to be more active in improving mental health services for all residents. 
In & out mental health workers/psyc nurses aren’t effective-its all about rapport between that individual, the community & clients-how else can you have trust?
Been waiting for treatment for mental health treatment as identified by the doctor for 2yrs. Medications only help with some symptoms. I’m left to fend for myself as the GN drags its arse, stalls, creates delays & symptoms worsen.
Must be others in the same situation. 
A great point made above re: mental health services in schools -but don’t dump it of teachers. Why no educational psychologists to support students, learning and staff?
Intergenerational trauma continues to be unaddressed.

#2. Posted by olaf on October 05, 2018

Mental health has always been an issue up here and people have said so for many many years
How come the Dept. of Health never makes it a priority?
Get on it, Health, make it real, train local people not people who will always leave.
Do the right thing please.

#3. Posted by olaf on October 08, 2018

We do need to train local people in mental illness.
We cannot only have professionals because they do leave like Poster #2 says.
We need to give proper training to people that will stay with us.

#4. Posted by Not so easy tho on October 09, 2018

#3 aren’t you #2?

You make it sound so easy, just “train local people”!

Come on, if it was as easy as that the problem would have been solved. It’s clearly more complex than this.

#5. Posted by Taiga on October 12, 2018

That’s the problem with nunavut.  Make sure Inuit vote the right people who don’t go involve in behind the door deals.  Right people that are trusted well known people.

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