Suicide should be a major election issue


I feel that I need to write a letter in response to this article and this report. (“Report: Everyone in Nunavut should fight suicide,” Nov. 1, 2010.)
I’m honestly not trying to be a critic but I feel with some of my limited experience I need to speak my peace, I hope it will reach those that it needs to.
I remember when I worked at the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the report that was being written way back then was not enough. So some of the aboriginal staff, myself included, formed a group to meet and review draft after draft of this inconsequential report. We used to meet at lunch time so that we would not be criticized by our superiors for taking the time for peer-reviewing this report.

So we met regularly. The one thing that struck me the most, aside from the passion of this impromptu group, was that, yes we were aboriginal people collectively; north, south, east, west, Ojibway, Cree, Algonquin, Inuit and as different as we were, the one thing that we all had in common was suicide
It really affected me, this group. More so than the actual final report. There were times when some members couldn’t make our lunch because they had had a suicide either in their direct family or in their community.
Since then, I’ve worked in Nunavut in various positions and fields. To me, I’ve seen a lot and had high hopes for the Government of Nunavut, especially for changing Nunavut’s crazy suicide rates. My hopes have been crushed, especially with this report.

I remember hearing in my past work experience that a strong indicator of a child that is suicidal is absenteeism from school.

Yet does Nunavut schools have a tracking mechanism for kids that have chronic absenteeism? Does this report speak to the Department of Education flagging this as a concern?
I don’t think so. Even from that standpoint, like I said previously, all aboriginal people experience rates of suicide that are beyond comprehension. It is a direct result of the Canadian government’s efforts to make aboriginal people feel inconsequential. It worked.
What we need to do is to start teaching our kids is that they are worthy. What they are and have experienced is not their fault. If the suicide rate that is experienced in Nunavut was being experienced in Ottawa there would have been an inquiry or commission by now.
I’m tired of reports that are insignificant. Especially when you see that this government is considering removing the Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun language bonus that our Inuit teachers well deserve, I mean really, who is in contact with our kids the most every day? Teachers.
I don’t just want to rant with my comments. This couldn’t be a better time for possible change, NTI is holding elections for a new president, Iqaluit will elect a new mayor, Nunavut will elect new MLA’s in less than two years.

I’m urging all Nunavummiut to demand change and make the issue of suicide a pivotal turning point in any election.
Sadly, even though our MP is federal minister of health, I am not convinced of positive change. So I speak to my own children of what I`ve experienced with suicide and how it made me feel but more importantly how worthy they are as beautiful Inuit girls. They are not expendable. No Inuk is.
Madeleine d’Argencourt

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