Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavik April 16, 2018 - 8:00 am

Nunavik conference to help Inuit youth “take their values back”

Two-day meeting will gather youth and elders in Kangiqsujuaq April 17 to April 18

Qarjuit Youth Council president Alicia Aragutak and elder appointee Louisa Cookie-Brown, centre, cut the ribbon at the youth council’s new office opening earlier this year. The two will help lead a two-day retreat for youth and elders in Kangiqsujuaq April 17-18. (PHOTO COURTESY OF QARJUIT)
Qarjuit Youth Council president Alicia Aragutak and elder appointee Louisa Cookie-Brown, centre, cut the ribbon at the youth council’s new office opening earlier this year. The two will help lead a two-day retreat for youth and elders in Kangiqsujuaq April 17-18. (PHOTO COURTESY OF QARJUIT)

Louisa Cookie-Brown has spent much of her career working to support elders and at-risk Inuit.

But the Nunavik elder, originally from Kuujjuaraapik, said she’s noticed a movement in recent years, particularly among the region’s youth, to heal from past trauma and to “take their values back.”

“Young people have shown their strength and hunger,” she said. “And we elders have to wake up and respond.”

And she has. Cookie-Brown has been appointed as an elder representative to the Qarjuit Youth Council’s board of directors. Next week, she is one of about a dozen elders taking part in a two-day youth and elder retreat, coordinated by the youth council.

The group wants to bridge a important gap—Inuit identity and values, and how they’re seen from Nunavik’s eldest to its youngest generation.

Alicia Aragutak, president of the Qarjuit Youth Council, said the council has heard Nunavik youth ask very clearly for help connecting with their roots.

“It was very evident that Inuit identity and culture isn’t really present in our society today,” she said.

“We have very proud Inuit youth but … we can’t really elaborate on that topic. There’s always that gap.”

On April 17 and April 18, 11 elders and 27 youth will sit together in Kangiqsujuaq’s community hall. The event will start with elders sharing their past and present.

“They’ll talk about all kinds of things; how they were educated, how they show love and coping mechanisms,” Aragutak said. “And then we’ll ask the youth the same questions, to see the commonalities and differences.”

Cookie-Brown wants to highlight the traditional ways of life that once defined Inuit.

As Inuit were settled into communities, they lost a lot, Cookie-Brown recalled, from their self-governing systems to their methods of travelling and harvesting.

“As our values were taken away, there was a lot of hurt,” she said. “It weakened us, and when that happened, [Inuit] started to compete.

“We are very strong people because we survived with all that was taken away,” she said. “It will take time to recover all the things we’ve have lost.”

Alison Mesher, 23, originally from Kuujjuaq, is a hairdressing student based in Montreal who has registered for the conference.

For her, it’s a chance to learn more about traditional Inuit values that have been lost.

“I don’t really hear anyone speaking about their past,” Mesher said. “My parents never really talked about our history.”

The two-day retreat also aims to come up with action items on how Inuit youth can better connect with their culture in their home communities.

Mesher would love to see the event participants come up with some ideas for new programming and activities that can be offered to Inuit youth in Nunavik communities, to keep youth busy and build their confidence.

Like Mesher and Cookie-Brown, the event’s participants are mostly women.

Originally, the gathering was targeted at young men, but organizers found more interest among young women—as Aragutak said is the case with many of Qarjuit’s events.

“This is one of our challenges—to get more young men involved,” she said.

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(14) Comments:

#1. Posted by Save it on April 16, 2018

Nunavimmiut have been throwing good money for 40 years in empty conferences.  What makes this one any different, I wonder. Big talk, big egos, big little leaders, big little elders

#2. Posted by Older person? on April 16, 2018

it has been brought to my attention that the youth age for Nunavik is 13 years old up to the age of 35 years old.
I guess this tells you a small story of how screwed up the adults are. Believing that they are Youths and not grown men and women with more responsibilities than teens. The social structure for the Inuit is dysfunctional.

#3. Posted by Star Child on April 16, 2018

This is such a valuable opportunity for youth to reconnect with their culture. Elders hold the key to the past, traditional ways of being. The only way to preserve Inuit culture is to pass on this knowledge. I am so grateful that this conference is happening.

#4. Posted by ROund a' bout on April 16, 2018

#3 Your comment reads like such hackneyed, platitudinous tripe I nearly burped.

Seriously though, contextualize “traditional ways of being” for us, and make it mean something.

Ready… set… !

#5. Posted by Pop goes the weasel on April 17, 2018

Here we go again. Dealing with what was taken, not what was let go from being cowards. Inuit will continue to be unhealthy if the blame game is allowed to continue. If anyone can take away from the life of inuit, then take away that chronic disease of blaming others for their misfortune. I like the point that comment above makes about a 35 year old youth, believing he or she is a not a 35 year old adult. Screwed up is so right.

#6. Posted by Elders teachers on April 17, 2018

From what I see it’s the elders of Nunavik that didn’t teach the younger generation well. Since the early 1970s, the neglect is incredible. That’s about the time, theses so called elders of today got a real taste of alcohol, and drugs. Oh how they loved the tobacco too, but that was ok. But when the taste of alcohol mostly, there you have it, no more control. Getting high took precedence over caring and teaching of children. I don’t care about what useless efforts are made today. Many of us know the truth. We’re not impressed.

#7. Posted by Beneficiary on April 17, 2018

# 1,2 , 4 and 5… i nominate you all to fix the problem(s) you see. You do not seem to appreciate the problems we have left and people trying to amend it. Their was never any org that looked into the daily problems the youth face today and yet , their is none besides the new youth org that is still anew. I nominate you to fix with a snap of your hurting fingers.

#8. Posted by F U on April 17, 2018

Just wanted to reply to the negative connotations attached to your story regarding Mesher not hearing about her past at home. I know Mary is very traditional in her teachings at home. Harvey is quite adamant that their children are knowledgeable in both past and modern Inuit traditional values. Maybe the problem is not that the adults are not teaching about the past but rather the children are not listening. If it ain’t attached to a screen these days then you may as well forget trying to discus the past with today’s youth.

#9. Posted by ROund a' bout on April 17, 2018

#7 You didn’t answer my question.

Why not?

#10. Posted by Urban Boy! on April 17, 2018

Congratulations for the efforts to get the ball rolling.  Whatever happened in the past that led to more social problems can be mentioned at these meetings.  It’s okay.  Give a chance to the Youth supported by Elders and other regional organisations to get involved in efforts to make things better now. Come on people!

#11. Posted by Not living on April 18, 2018

Inuit of Nunavik spend too much time procrastinating about life, rather than living life. The world goes on and Nunavik is left behind. People wonder what’s happening. The meet, they plan, then they meet and plan again, forgetting they already plan for that before. It’s so bizarre and screwed up. The only ones gaining anything are the meeting committees members, who get pay to meet and greet. But that’s not good money either, because they have no freedom to use the money, because they have to meet and greet again tomorrow about what they met and greeted about yesterday.

#12. Posted by Look at the photo on April 18, 2018

The photo captures our problem. Just look at it. It’s staring at us, and indicating our social upsets. There’s a few people missing, but we know who they are too. A photo speaks a thousand words, wrong, a photo tells the whole story.

#13. Posted by J.Y on April 19, 2018

For all of you people who are attacking this wonderful, powerful, moving, uplifting and important conference, I would like to say you guys are cowerds hiding under perfect little computer monitors, change is a good thing, get used to it and you might think you know the whole solar system but their is a whole nother universe. PS I was there so don’t say I do not know what I am talking about.

#14. Posted by Bernie Adams on April 19, 2018

I helped to prepare and organize the tables, chairs, pa system and was there at all times for this Nunavik Inuit Youth Conference.Most of these Young,Courage and Brave young men and women did not have an easy upbringing and now they are ready to start living their Traditional ways and taking back their culture. I am an Inuk and when I was growing up there was a saying “Children should be seen and not heard”. I was also told by my parents and grandparents not to ask questions about how we live or hunt. We were told to mind our business and let the adults talk. If we went out with our friends than they would say why don’t you stay home instead of going out. We were damned if we do and damned if we don’t. I grew up in the late 60-70’s where alcohol and drugs was an everyday thing and what our parents cared about was partying. I am 33 years sober and my children has never seen me drunk or stoned. I wanted to raise my children differently than how I was raised.I Salute these young men/women

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