Dozens of people in Puvirnituq take challenge to get sober

Movie nights, arts and crafts, and walks keep participants busy for month-long initiative

The Sobering up Challenge started in Puvirnituq on Nov. 14 with a walk through the community. (Photo courtesy of Community Services Team Prevention and Promotion Puvirnituq)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A community initiative encouraging people to go sober for a month is underway in Puvirnituq.

The Sobering up Challenge, which started on Nov. 14 and runs until Dec. 14, is meant to provide a space where participants can feel supported as they begin their recovery journeys, organizers say.

Various groups in the community are working together to run the challenge, including the Inuulitsivik Health Centre, the northern village and the Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre.

This is the second time Puvirnituq has held a Sobering up Challenge, according to Stéphanie Boisclair, who works for Inuulitsivik. Other communities have held similar challenges in recent years as well.

This year’s challenge includes several events for participants, including arts and crafts workshops, healing gatherings, coffee time, and a movie night.

One of the first events on Nov. 14 was an opening ceremony and a walk around the community. Leading up to that, youth from the community made signs with messages of support to the participants.

“All the students participated, making the posters, so that was a really touching moment to have all those people,” Boisclair said.

“They did amazing work.”

At the beginning, 92 people signed up to be a part of the challenge; however, the number of participants still in it in the second week was down to 75.

Dolly Mesher, a community addiction counsellor at Isuarsivik, said the challenge is meant to support people with their recoveries, no matter how hard it gets.

“We’re just thanking them for their honesty,” Mesher said.

“To every participant, even though they relapsed, we’re telling them that they can still come to the evening activities, they can still join in the support that we’re giving.”

The challenge is set to continue until Dec. 14. Participants who stayed sober for the month will earn prizes for their accomplishment.

But both Boisclair and Mesher made it clear that the point of the challenge is not the chance to win prizes.

“It’s about people’s healing journeys,” Mesher said.

“I hope they feel less alone than when they started, Nov. 14.”

Boisclair said that she hopes that the challenge inspires people to not give up hope as they strive towards recovery.

“Recovery is not like a perfect, straight line; some moments it will be more difficult,” she said.

“For me, I wish that the sober challenge is a positive enough experience for them that if ever they relapse or anything, they’ll want to try again and keep open the fact that it can get better.”

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(24) Comments:

  1. Posted by Kuujjuaq on

    It s hard to stop drinking , when most of your family members and your friends are allways drinking. Take , a lot of will power.

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  2. Posted by inukjuakmiuk on

    it’s hard to stop when people would invite you to have a few drinks, before you know it, you are blind drunk

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    • Posted by Northerner on

      A buddy of mine invited me for a drink , one friday evening ,next thing you it was sunday morning, talk about a bender

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  3. Posted by s on

    Dolly Mesher, a community addiction counsellor at Isuarsivik and Stéphanie Boisclair, who works for Inuulitsivik are offering trivial and counterproductive prizes for sobriety:

    “Participants who stayed sober for the month will earn prizes for their accomplishment.”

    How disappointing!

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      • Posted by S on

        ‘Non-trivial’ prizes are:

        sobriety itself, self-esteem, self-respect, humilty, honesty, compassion, courage, openmindedness,,,,,,

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        • Posted by Seriously? on

          So, you’re saying that incentivizing a sobriety event for the health of the community is trivial? I think that this actually helps to promote sobriety; people sometimes need an extra push to help them make the choice to improve personal health in their lives. In a time where drug and alcohol abuse are running rampant in the north, I don’t think it’s prudent to judge someone for how they run a sobriety initiative/ get people excited about something. What are you doing to help? At least someone is trying to clean up the community rather than sit and complain about how it is being done. Offer something constructive.

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          • Posted by S on

            No, I’m saying that your idea of incentiving sobriety is worse than trivial; I’m saying specifically that your way undermines and is counterproductive to sobriety, personal desire, personal choice, and change.

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            • Posted by SK on

              You may not agree with the giving away of prizes as incentive for gaining sobriety, however I highly doubt that this is the reason behind why anyone would want to sign up for a challenge of this nature. Why focus on the negative so long as it’s having a positive impact? 92 people signed up which is huge, and I guarantee you their largest incentive was to focus on healing, being part of a healthy community, and getting well for themselves and their families. You are not in a position to judge how a someone goes about this process as healing is highly individual. I generously applaud the work of Dolly and Stephanie for getting people involved which for many is the first step of recovery prizes or no prizes. Congrats to everyone who is participating, every day is an opportunity to make a better choice, and therefore I view every day of sobriety a success.

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  4. Posted by 867 on

    How to stay sober:

    1. don’t drink alcohol!

    👌 well wasnt that easy

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    • Posted by Nay say 867 on

      You don’t score any there 867. Unless you know something most people don’t know. Two things I see from your remark: you’re either a light drinker, . Or a heavy drinker in denial:looking for quick quack on the back for a laugh, again no score for you.

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  5. Posted by Thomas Shelby on

    I think this is a great idea, should be done in all communities, there’s always lots of Government money for everything else, why not put some into this idea and run with it. It can only help and if it only gets 1 person sober, then it’s worth it.

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  6. Posted by David Esdaile on

    Remember to “Never Question The Decision – NQTD”

  7. Posted by Contingency program in treatment on

    I can tell you that it’s possible to kick the habit, and to feel good for it. Not easy, but possible, that being said, it could be more possible and easier then we are aware. Off course different people have differences in their lives, but give it a try. Now, as we discuss, rewards for stopping booze, drugs, whatever, it’s shown to work well in treatment programs. It’s called among other labels, Contingency programs. Positive rewards, as opposed to the usual negative judgement we usual get from drinking and trouble that go with it. Although some disagree in the treatment fields, and even clients themselves have disagreements, it’s nevertheless has shown positive outcomes. Puvirnituq has did this before and it’s a positive thing, now it’s kuujjuaqs turn, and other communities as well. It can’t hurt to do this.

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  8. Posted by Karen on

    Excellent idea, I commend all participants, it takes a lot of courage to do this , keep up the great work!!!you guys rock!!!

    • Posted by Inuk from Nunavik on

      We need all the help , we can get in nunavik ,some of our fellow inuks are suffering.

  9. Posted by Another way or idea. on

    All good try’s here. There’s another way to promote sober life. Get the testimony of people that are not living a life of alcohol use, and show Drinkers how nice that kind of life can be. They maybe former drinkers who got sober, or people that just live a life of no alcohol. They are many wonderful stories out there. Imagine hearing from people who go on the land often, hunt , fish, camp , cultural living. Let a program make the stories available to public.

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  10. Posted by Savings on

    This translate into peace and comfort, and money saved by less strain on services to the intoxicating situation. The police and first responders get a break, doctors , nurses and hospital staff can relax some. And the families of the drinkers, the wife , the husband, the elders, the kids, the friends. This act of one month alcohol free is huge. And off course, a healthy month for the participants. Just a thought, but imagine charging the intoxicating individual with all the cost to society by having to dealing with his or her drinking?

  11. Posted by See the beauty on

    If only the beauty of life could be felt without the booze. I’m not saying that in a negative way, but as a reality check to the otherwise misery life of the boozer. Many people enjoy and have alcohol without the issues we are concerned about here. Even the hardcore alcoholic is not so much as contributing to the Nunavik issues, as is the problem drinker. Most of our troubles with alcohol lives in the problem drinker. Even down south in the streets and small town drunks, and known alcoholic always looking for the drink, it’s not that kind of person, but the idiot drinkers that cause our troubles. I hope the treatment programs address the situation from the problem drinker perspective, and yet help the alcoholic, but not have the programs focused too much in the wrong corner of concerns. Get to the idiots will get to the troubles as we know it.

  12. Posted by TGC on

    Knowledge is power. Knowing when you have this dependancy would be a start. Imagine, think to take a step back to see yourself, are you loud aggressive, etc. Recognize the signs, life is difficult for everyone at times, just knowing that would be a good thing. You are not alone, none of us are.

  13. Posted by Jay Clericus on

    An interesting article being read by a southern lurker, guess getting blind drunk is common for many in the frozen wastes ? guess the biggest reward is for an alcoholic to be sober for several weeks.

    They can always revert to it later, but more than a few drinks brings so many health disadvantages that it is good to see communities helping those that need it 🙂

    I make my own wine, I buy beers from the pub and wine / beer / spirits from shops. Not tend to drink much and like to be able to drive vehicles the next day 🙂

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