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Embrace Life produces kit to fight suicides

Information intended to help parents, teens cope with life’s pressures

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

JACKIE WALLACE

With suicide rates among Inuit youth at 11 times the national average and soaring near the highest in the world, the Isaksimagit Inuusirmi Katujjiqatigiit Embrace Life Council wants to help communities deal with the problem.

The suicide prevention council has put together what it calls a “resources toolkit” for organizations and individuals looking to start groups or organize suicide awareness or prevention campaigns in their community.

“When we spoke to people in the communities they would mention that they knew the information was out there but didn’t know how to get it,” said Lori Idlout, executive director of the council. “The toolkit is a way to share that information.”

After its formation in 2004, the council visited many communities and spoke with people all over the territory.

Council members say they have observed that the sense of community among Inuit, where stories, songs and legends taught a code of behaviour and time-honoured values, has been interrupted by the introduction of outside influences and new institutions.

With the Inuit population being the youngest in Canada, with 39 per cent under the age of 14 and a birth rate twice as high as the rest of the country, the Embrace Life Council wants to return to the roots of Inuit values to support this growing group of youth and their communities and help them cope with the pressures of modern life.

“The concept of embracing life and teaching kids in a holistic way is a very Inuit idea,” says Idlout.

And she hopes that this kit will help reinstate values such as self-respect, interconnectedness, adaptability, generosity and trust in their communities.

The council has created pamphlets full of statistics and literature on positive parenting, guides for adults to be inclusive with youth and coping tips for teens. The kit also includes a list of potential sources of funding and information on how existing groups can become recognized as non-profit organizations.

For groups that are just starting out the kit also provides basic information on how to organize and how to establish a committee. There are even suggestions on what the agenda of the first meeting should cover.

“We want to provide very practical information so people feel they have the ability to help themselves and others in their community,” said Sheila Levy, president of the council. “We hope it will support communities and individuals to create wellness within their communities.”

The kit was reviewed and approved by the council’s 11 member organizations, which include the Government of Nunavut, NTI and the RCMP. Although it is only currently available electronically it will be in print by the end of the summer and distributed across the territory.

Levy calls the project a “living document” that the council will update every year to ensure that communities have the most up-to-date information available to them.

For more information, or to receive a copy of the toolkit, contact Lori Idlout at (867) 975-6504 or lidlout@qiniq.com.

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