Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut August 13, 2004 - 3:48 pm

RCMP lends a hand to suicide fighters

“It’s an issue that everybody has been touched by”



Nunavut’s new network of suicide fighters got a cash bonus recently, with a $3,500 donation from the RCMP’s fifth anniversary committee.

“Suicide has got to be the number one social issue in Nunavut,” said Corp. Jean-Marc Nadeau, who chaired the RCMP’s anniversary committee.

“It’s a small contribution, but any bit will help.”

Members of the Inuusirmi Katujjiqatigiit (“Embrace Life”) Council, an Iqaluit-based group aiming to coordinate suicide prevention efforts around the territory, met at the Frobisher Inn on August 6 to thank police and other sponsors, and introduce the council’s recently appointed members, including executive director Lori Idlout.

Idlout said a partnership that includes the RCMP and an array of business and community groups, has been key to getting the council off the ground.

Idlout credited the launch to the various partners following Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, or Inuit traditional knowledge.

“The concept of partnership is one of the really important principles of IQ,” she said in an interview after the sponsorship event. “We want to show that through partnership, we can reduce suicide and improve the health and well-being of Nunavummiut.”

The Inungni Sapujjijiit Task Force on Suicide Prevention and Community Healing, created by government MLAs in March 2003, established the council earlier this year to coordinate efforts between government departments, Inuit and volunteer groups, to curb the growing suicide rate in Nunavut.

Among other programs, the council aims to train suicide prevention counselors in communities.

Victor Tootoo, deputy minister of health and social services, said the council’s partnership approach reflects how the government wants to tackle issues like suicide.

“It’s an important issue that everybody in Nunavut has been touched by,” Tootoo said. “[The council] is one of the best ways to do what one organization can’t do on its own.

“I think everybody today is better for the creation of the council.”

Tootoo said the government was showing its commitment by seconding Idlout, his department’s director of policy and planning, to the council for the next three years. The council estimates the government has given $235,000 in staff and resources to the initiative.

Nadeau said the donation was made possible by sponsors, which included: The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 168; The Frobisher Inn; R.L. Hanson Construction; Baffin Flowers and Gift Shop; KRT Electrical; Arctic Express; Ray Lovell Art Studio; Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce; the City of Iqaluit; and the Iqaluit District Education Authority.

The RCMP also donated office space in the Igluvut building in Iqaluit to the council, which consists of members from the Kamatsiaqtut Helpline, the Iqaluit Pentacostal Church, Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Federation of Nunavut Teachers, Nunavut Association of Municipalities, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Katimajiit, and regional Inuit associations.

The council hopes to host an open house next month.

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