Nunavik recovery centre wins minister’s award of excellence

Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre first Nunavik organization to receive award, says executive director

The Isuarsivik Regional Health Centre staff has won a Quebec ministers’ award for excellence. The centre in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, uses Inuit values to support people struggling with substance abuse. From left: Qemal Cheema, Isuarsivik’s deputy executive director; executive director Alicia Aragutak; board of directors vice-chairperson Mary Aitchison; chairperson David Forrest; and Minnie Grey, executive director of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services. (Photo by Tumiit Media)

By Madalyn Howitt

The Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre in Kuujjuaq has won an award of excellence from Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services.

The centre is a non-profit organization and receives funding from the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services. It focuses on rehabilitation and recovery for patients in northern Quebec struggling with substance abuse and addiction.

It was awarded the Minister’s Choice Distinction award on Dec. 10 for its work using Inuit values and practices to promote healing in communities.

In particular, the award recognizes exceptional community service initiatives and outstanding staff engagement, said Isuarsivik’s executive director, Alicia Aragutak.

“This has been a humbling and exciting experience,” Aragutak said.

“To be acknowledged from the outside is definitely gonna give you the feeling of, ‘Alright, we’re at a good pace, we’re doing good.'”

A small ceremony was held in Kuujjuaq on Dec. 10 to celebrate the win.

Aragutak said this marks the first time a Nunavik organization has won the award, and called it a boost to the team’s self-esteem.

“They do really hard work, and this is really heavy work,” she said.

The Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre was founded in 1994. The award of distinction comes as the organization is in the midst of building a new facility, set to be completed in fall 2022.

Aragutak said the expanded space will more than double the centre’s capacity in a new 22-bed facility that will offer a family-focused and a pregnant women recovery program in addition to its other services.

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(23) Comments:

  1. Posted by Uvanga on

    I wonder why Nunavut government does not send the Inuit to the treatment center featured instead of sending them down south…. I guess we will never know..

  2. Posted by Concerned member on

    Why do they come back home being worse?
    Doing more vandalism and doing more drinks and drugs?
    They come home being worse.

    • Posted by NUNAVIMIUK on

      most of the people ,who go are given a oppostion jail or rehab.

  3. Posted by Concerned beneficiary on

    Why aren’t the parents being included in this program?
    The parents are more likely not doing enough to control their kids behaviour.

    • Posted by To All Concerned on

      Why is it that when there is finally a good news story, it has to be damp’d by negativity; if you have nothing nice to say, keep it to yourself-this will not help you in solving your problem. Kudos to you Isuarsivik Team! Keep trying-alot of people are grateful for what you do.

    • Posted by It’s the parents on

      It is the parents that go into treatment and come out of treatment , that’s it that’s all. The program gives parents a break from the kids, just another break, as any other break from the kids, like a night of drinking gives a break as well. It’s like a holiday, without the booze. Finish the program , and celebrate with booze on the weekend of graduation. Look out kids were getting another break from you.

  4. Posted by No thanks! Never going there on

    Doesn’t hurt to collect all the credit, does it?
    Haven’t done much for the region but thinks otherwise.

    Make sure to look in your own backyard before trying to meddle with other people’s.
    And don’t forget to remember where you came from

  5. Posted by KARMA!!!!! on

    I did not notice any gratitude towards those already in recovery such as those in Alcoholics Anonymous who have participated in open meetings. Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre in Kuujjuaq did not do this by themselves. There are many unmentioned people. Many Inuit, Francophone and Anglophone chipped in over the years. Grateful or Ungrateful?

  6. Posted by How great is an award? on

    These awards are not from outside, but suggested from inside the region. It’s like most awards, even the order of Canada , order of Quebec, Governor generals award, they’re not coming from great acknowledgment of excellence, but rather implemented from a system of selection, that’s narrowly bias, and self serving. Nevertheless, it gives a boost to staff moral, and advertising a pitch to entice clientele, however much that’s worth. There’s a fear that the program makes the client , more ill as they go through and graduate from WHAT?

  7. Posted by Same old song sung on

    A recovery program is a very serious approach to health and wellness, and mental health interventions. The Centre has been, since it’s opening , contaminated with the same board of directors that keep the same old song playing over and over. The staff may have changed, not sure about their qualifications, but the board continues with an attitude that would drive anyone to drink, if they listen carefully to the musical. This Center is one of the biggest jokes on record for Nunavik. And as for Nunavut, continue your recovery in the south, don’t even think about isuarsivik.

  8. Posted by Peter on

    Congrats at least you caring folks are trying to assist others. Research shows in addictions it takes an average of 5-7 times through treatment for one to actually cease consuming their substance of choice and live healthy productive lives. Critics, opinions of any program are welcome however if your going to complain, have you any solutions to offer, just saying.

    • Posted by I got a solution on

      My solution would be to channel the money for this Center into something productive for Nunavik. To support my reasons for offering that solution, I’ve have the isuarsivik treatment Center make available to the public, their record of success. Allow the success record show how the program has improved the lives of our population. Not just to show how many came into treatment and went out after the program was finished, but show solid proof that the lives of the client and families, and communities, and the region has spent time, resources, and hundreds of thousands of , or millions of dollars to a good cause.? I challenge the Center to show these results, whether it be testimonials unbiased, and other documents that support success and justification of the services.

    • Posted by I want to complain on

      Complain I will. It takes 5 to 7 times in treatment you say, for the success to kick in? First of all I never been enlightened to reading anything about that in any research, but correct me , and thus contribute to my learning. Now, let’s put something in place, for the 6th time that a client goes into treatment. At the 6th time mark, there’s really an interesting thing going on. The client either goes forward or backward to old habits. I not convinced on that number of times meaning anything but, abuse to the system. Abuse by lawyers who continue to pull the wool over the treatment centers eyes, by allowing the client to go into a revolving door syndrome. Not only the lawyers who are advocating for the client not to go to jail, but also abuse by the treatments centers staff to partake in such incompetence. Another point worth comparing this 5 to 7 times to: consider the situation where a heavy drinker needs a new liver. Our medical system will not even put your name on the list if you continue to drink alcohol, as there are many people who are looking for a new liver, not just you. And giving a new liver to a drinker , is useless, since the liver will become damaged again. So how many chances do one get, in failure over and over. You must accept that sometimes, people can’t be help, due to their own decisions.

  9. Posted by Who are the clients? on

    The treatment Center has to implement better motivating factors for the intake criteria. Taking in clients as an alternative to going to jail needs further addressing. These kinds of motivations are concerning. The program all throughout North America has a very low rate of sobriety achievement , not to say that sobriety is the only means of measuring success. But tell me if you know successful graduates of isuarsivik that have continued to drink, but stay out trouble for any length of reason time. The criminal Justice system, lawyers in particular can take advantage of isuarsivik for thieir own purposes. Having isuarsivik and the client believe all is well in adverting jail in lieu of the program at isuarsivik. That’s a misconception, and a good avenue of failure for all concerned. We have to acknowledge that addiction is a concern, but most clients going through isuarsivik are not alcoholic as much as they are problem drinkers. I’m not sure , and maybe I’ll have to say, I believe the problems at isuarsivik are not for problem drinkers, but for alcoholics with real addictions. Therefore isuarsivik needs to address their training and their programs to fit the criminal and problem drinking aspects. They need two programs to treat the demands of two different client issues. Sometimes these behaviours and illnesses overlap, but having two school of thoughts in plave will cover holistically both needs.

  10. Posted by When healing to live become living to heal on

    The healing society. Healing is a necessity for life. But when life becomes a necessity for healing, we are in deep trouble. That’s exactly where Nunavik is headed in this “all for one, one for all” healing wave that’s bigger than anything we’ll ever known. Nunavik society functions as an healing society, it doesn’t live anymore, it only heals. It’s gone to a point where we need healing to heal from the healing that we are stuck and blinded into , with what happen to us as we were healing , and not living. We come to a point in life, where there’s a misconception that a magical gift of wellness is just waiting to answer all our issues. We don’t want to achieve any real individual, personal, and social growth, we only want to heard about that magical portion of healing that consuming our whole being. You can’t go anywhere without hearing and seeing healing, not living , but healing , endless , useless progress towards nothing but more healing. To live is to heal.

  11. Posted by Very Proud! on

    Super Proud of Isuarsivik’s accomplishment, It has not been easy to get where you are. As long as the right people support its development and constant stride to improve and adapt its services for the clients, the nay-sayers are not important.
    Keep it up! Many families are benefitting here !

    • Posted by Nay say what to whom? on

      I could say I’m proud of the isuarsivik’s good intentions, but I’m not proud of any significant accomplishments. That being said, a good intention is not good enough when it can’t bring that accomplished goal of professionalism. The Good Samaritan act can’t be applied in a public health Center like isuarsivik, it’s not appropriate to run on intentionally good only. There needs to be accountability, there needs to be professional treatments that not only to bring wellness, but also bring justification for the funds used. Isuarsivik to my opinion offers only good intentions, everything else needed is not available. But worse: it’s questionable with good reason, that the program further enhances client outcome for the worse. In other words it motivates people to drink more and have lees confidence. It also plays with people mental health dangerously.

      • Posted by Very Proud on

        I hope Santa brings happiness to your broken self, for whatever reason. Isuarsivik is much better than what you portray. Be well !

  12. Posted by Get the Facts on

    For all of you nay sayers out there, please consider the following: Isausivik is a community based organization governed by a a volunteer Board of Directors from across Nunavik. Isuarsivik has obtained accreditation from Accreditation Canada, a body that is world renowened for their stringent evaluation of all protocols, procedures and governance of health facilities. Isuarsivik is the only entity in Nunavik to obtain this distinction. Many years ago, Isuarsivik realized that a large percentage of problem drinkers in the north were medicating trauma. Led by volunteers from accross Nunavik, plus certified addiction specialists and doctors, they created an Inuit Specific Trauma Program. The first program developed by Inuit for Inuit in the world. This program utilized the best of traditional Inuit knowledge and combined it with best pratices from the medical addictions field. The program used by Isuarsivik is now “Trauma Based” meaning that the focus is now based on the pain that is being medicated by various substances and behaviours. isuarsivik is constantly seeking best practices from indigineous peoples and experts from around the world for the program which is always evolving.
    While Isuarsivik does accept some clients from the justice system, they are diligently screened, as are the rest of the clientele. It is difficult to measure “success” in this field. Seeds are planted. Some are successful after one session other folks require further help. Isuarsivik is making a differencee in Nunavik and I, for one, am very glad that we have this resource in our region. BRAVO!

    • Posted by Problem with your facts on

      Some people will believe any old thing , and put it down as facts without any question. I’m willing to question Accreditation Canada. Many of such accredited schemes have been issued to kids scribbling colouring contest, with being fooled into believing the production belonged to artists of renowned. Accreditation Canada sitting in its big Toronto office dealing with remote Nunavik, looks forward to fees to Accredit not only from the treatment Centre, but the staffs Accreditation as well, fees accepted. As for the volunteer director’s, so what? Just another group of meet greets overlapping from other committees engaged in multiple nothingness. The trauma based program based on indigenous and doctors combined ideology, what? Have you seen our current suicide rate, our jail population, our drunk driving record? Been on the road lately to see trucks in ditches.? See the challenger jet arriving in Nunavik, most frequently fly place for the team, picking up intoxicated seriously injured patients? Have you heard about the death rate, directly related to alcohol and drugs? Do accreditation Canada know about these outcomes? Not to blame the treatment Center for that kind of misery, but can you show me how the treatment Center has contributed any worth while, million dollars solution here? The facts you say.

  13. Posted by S on

    It’s great to see all of the comments on this article, especially from “Who are the clients”. I think your concerns about intake criteria, the legal system’s motives, and differentiated programs are valid.

    On the other hand, I’d like to add that alcoholism is much less an addiction than an allergy. It is an inherited disorder. One is alcoholic if one has the genes for alcoholism. Those genes have been identified and fall into two groupings: those that affect how a mammal processes alcohol digestively to convert it along the pathway into its metabolites – acetaldehyde and further into acetic acid and acetyl-CoA and through the citric acid cycle ultimately producing cellular energy and releasing water and carbon dioxide. In alcoholics this process is delayed at the acetaldehyde stage.

    The second set of “alcoholic” genes determine the way acetaldehyde affects the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, GABA, and glutamate. About 10% of adults (and mammals in general) have enough of the 25 genes to constitute and manifest alcoholism. Personal emotional trauma is not a factor in alcoholism. As you mentioned, there is also alcohol abuse that is unrelated to clinical alcoholism. Nonetheless, it is my personal belief that nearly all “alcoholism” that we see in society can be attributed to genetics

    In any case, I doubt that the institution in question has the technical or human resources to differentiate alcohol disorders, nor does it need to. But yes, the acid test is whether a client ceases drinking, notwithstanding that the process to reach that state needs to be a holistic one.

  14. Posted by Graduation on Friday, drunk on Saturday on

    Let’s bring in a few graduates of isuarsivik and get their side of the story. That would be interesting. Let them tell us all about the programs, the follow ups, and the new life that is the result of isuarsivik. We need maybe , to select at random a few known graduates and get their testimonies. Yes, invite them to tell us about their experience.

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