Pangnirtung starts work on community wellness, suicide prevention

Baffin community to spend next two weeks honing action plan


A series of workshops on a new community-based wellness plan gets underway this week in Pangnirtung. (FILE PHOTO)

A series of workshops on a new community-based wellness plan gets underway this week in Pangnirtung. (FILE PHOTO)

Starting today, Pangnirtung elders, youth, parents, counsellors, school staff and other residents will spend part of the next two weeks in workshops designed to produce a five-year community wellness action plan.

The goal of the plan is to help residents get the support they need “to address difficulties in life and to develop skills that will help people to make good choices for happier lives.”

Pangnirtung’s service organization, Inuit Ilagiit, and former members of the Pujualussait group, which organized an Inuit trauma conference in Pangnirtung in 2008, are hosting the workshops, which will wrap up Jan. 27 with a workshop open to everyone in the community of about 1,500.

Information on the workshops says these aim to offer people more support and decrease the risk of young people becoming unhappy or thinking about suicide.

The workshops aren’t healing workshops, Inuit Ilagiit said, although workshops on poverty. bullying, violence and substance abuse may flow from the plan.

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The topics for this month’s workshops include:

• Building safety: “an important factor in well-being of young people”

• Healthy relationships

• Making powerful choices, coping and strength-building “when dealing with stress and difficulties in life”

• “Hope, help and healing,” focusing on life experiences that “can put a person at risk to run into difficulties in life and possibly commit suicide and what can be done to prevent that from happening”

The community-wide workshop will draw on the results of the focused workshops to craft a five-year action plan.

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Nunavut, in its five-year plan for suicide prevention in the territory, urged communities to take similar action.

In the plan, released last June, the Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Quality of Life Secretariat and the Embrace Life Council said they would offer money and support to strengthen existing efforts and new preventative measures.

The plan, called Inuusivut Anninaqtuq, or United for Life, provided $16 million over five years for community programs that support suicide prevention from a five-year fund of $35 million that the GN earmarked for mental health in its last budget.

In 2016, 32 people died by suicide in Nunavut, the same number reported in 2015. No figures have been released yet for 2017.

The workshops in Pangnirtung start with a workshop for elders on Jan. 16 to Jan. 19, for parents, Jan. 17 to Jan. 20, for school staff, Jan. 16 to Jan. 25, and for youth, Jan. 23 to Jan. 26.

The community-wide workshop takes place Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A feast and games will follow.

For more information on the workshops offered by Inuit Ilagiit, you can contact the group through its Facebook page.

For anyone in emotional distress, the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line can always be reached at 1-855-242-3310. The line is free and available 24-hours a day.

You can also reach the Kamatsiaqtut Help Line 24-hours a day at 1-867-979-3333 or, toll-free from Nunavik or Nunavut, at 1-800-265-3333.

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