Jack Hicks to help deliver ITK’s Inuit-specific suicide strategy
Hicks becomes senior policy advisor for mental wellness
Long-time Iqaluit resident and one-time New Democratic Party candidate Jack Hicks has moved to Gatineau, Quebec, to take a job with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami to work on, among other things, an Inuit-specific suicide strategy.
Hicks, who, until recently lived in Apex, was executive director of ITK in 1991, when it was called Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, so, with this new job, he comes full circle 22 years later.
ITK has made it a priority to explore the specific concerns and issues related to the high rates of suicide among Inuit.
“Why do we need an Inuit-specific suicide prevention strategy? We need to recognize the uniqueness of Inuit communities, their shared history of collective and historical trauma, and the relationship between mental wellness and substance abuse in Inuit communities,” ITK President Terry Audla said during a speech on World Suicide Prevention Day, Sept. 11.
“We need to address a critical lack of infrastructure in Inuit communities and strengthen the continuum of mental health services, especially in relation to accessibility and appropriateness of care.”
Jack Hicks, ITK’s new senior policy advisor for mental wellness, seems particularly suited to work on this plan.
For nearly a decade, Hicks has been investigating suicidal behaviour in Nunavut and spearheading evidence-based suicide prevention initiatives in the territory.
But as a member of the working group looking into a suicide strategy for Nunavut, Hicks was critical of the process, which he said was dogged by constant delays as a result of incompetence and bureaucratic “turf wars” within the government’s Department of Health and Social Services.
When it was finally released in September 2011, Nunavut’s anti-suicide action plan promised more research, mental health services and suicide intervention training by March 2014.
No audit of those improvements has yet been made.
Hicks has also served as a consultant on suicide issues for the governments of Greenland and Guyana and written numerous research papers on the subject.
Hicks is a trainer and promoter of ASIST — Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.
As an NDP candidate, Hicks ran unsuccessfully against Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq in the 2011 election and came in third with 19.4 per cent of the vote.