Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut January 22, 2013 - 9:04 am

Through the eyes of Nunavut youth: suicide, mental health and substance abuse

“We had a really good uptake, and we heard really good feedback”


The Embrace Life Council has announced the teenaged winners of its Nunavut-wide “Through My Eyes” contest after looking at nearly 100 entries.

The contest, which called for drawings, essays or photos related to suicide, mental health or substance abuse, was open to residents of Nunavut between the ages of six and 18.

At the same time, young people between 15 and 18 submitted 500-word essays describing how those topics affect them.

Jenny Tierney, executive director of the Embrace Life Council, said the contest, which was based on a World Health Organization contest, was successful.

Similar contests will be held in the future.

“We had a really good uptake, and we heard really good feedback, not just from youth but quite a few teachers,” she said.

Some schools had their students work on their entries in class.

“The kids went to such amazing lengths with their entries, it was really overwhelming the amount of attention they gave,” Tierney said.

The contest was done in partnership with the “V” division of the RCMP.

Its purpose was to help kids understand how suicide, mental health and substance abuse affect them. 

“We believe that an open discussion is necessary to create awareness, educate the public and eliminate stigma,” Tierney said.

The winners of the “Through My Eyes: contest are:

Chantelle Tunguaq, 18, of Baker Lake, who won a grand prize of $450 for her essay.

“You will leave them [parents] with a broken heart that will take a long time to heal. It would put your parents through so much stress after losing their baby due to suicide,” she wrote.

The Baffin regional winners of $200 and other non-cash prizes are:

Maleane Aka Guerin, seven, from Iqaluit;
Jocelyn Arreak, 13, from Igloolik; and
Amanda Akeeagok, 16, from Arctic Bay.

In the Kivalliq region, the winners are: 
Harry Jr. Milortok, 9, from Repulse Bay;
Carmen Nakoolak. 10 from Coral Harbor; and                                                    
Calinda Nimiqtaqtuq, 17, from Repulse Bay.

In Nimiqtaqtuq’s written essay, she suggested that communities create events for youth to entertain themselves. 

Suicide is not a natural way to die, and it leaves people feeling sad and depressed, Nimiqtaqtuq wrote.

“There is no doubt that the people who did it really wanted to talk to someone, but could not find the person who seemed best to talk to,” Nimiqtaqtuq said in her entry. 

There were no were no winning entries from the Kitikmeot.

The Embrace Life Council recently raised $16,000 for a “survivors of suicide” support group, an eight-week pilot project taking place in Iqaluit this coming fall.

The support group, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, would be lead by someone from ELC and either a social worker or a mental health worker.

The “Through My Eyes” winning entries may be viewed here.




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