Rankin Inlet residents to rally for more mental health resources

Event scheduled for Sunday

From left: Meagan Netser, Leonie Sammurtok and Emily Van Der Kamp are three of seven Rankin Inlet residents organizing a rally Sunday for better mental health resources in the community. (Photo courtesy of Leonie Sammurtok)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nunavummiut should have more mental health resources, including better access to therapists and more recreational programs, says an organizer of a rally planned in Rankin Inlet this weekend to call attention to these needs.

Leonie Sammurtok is one of several organizers for a “mental health movement,” an event intended to bring awareness to high suicide rates in Nunavut and demand better access to mental health resources.

“The mental health movement is a change that Nunavut needs to see,” she said in an interview.

There are two areas Sammurtok said she would like to see change. One of those is more therapist positions filled on a permanent basis. The majority of therapists who work in Nunavut are temporary workers, and Sammurtok says this creates a barrier for Nunavummiut who want to access mental health care.

“For people, having to repeat the discussions over and over again is a problem,” she said.

She also said she wants to see more recreational programs that are not sport-based, such as carving, sewing, qamutik-making and baking programs, because they help people who don’t like to talk about their mental health in a formal setting.

Many recreational offerings are run by volunteers in Rankin Inlet, which makes the hamlet more of a family than a community, Sammurtok said. And if more people knew about programs and volunteer opportunities, residents would feel less isolated.

Sammurtok said she wants to see people from government departments that provide mental health resources show up to the rally.

The event, which was partially inspired by the recent rally with a similar theme in Iqaluit, had originally been planned for Nov. 20, but was postponed due to weather. There will be $500 in prizes, as well as refreshments.

In preparation, organizers are cutting ribbons that they will distribute at the rally. There are 14 different colours of ribbons, with each representing a different area of mental health, such as yellow representing suicide, grey for bipolar and dark blue for depression.

Sammurtok is encouraging residents to join in to pay tribute to loved ones lost to suicide.

The rally is scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. in front of Rankin Inlet’s Turaarvik Inns North.

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by Survivors on

    It’s going on 3 years since I lost my son to suicide. It doesn’t get easier, but resources helped. When I didn’t feel ready for professional mental health help, I turned to Reddit. Unfortunately, other people have had similar experiences, but can offer their wisdom.
    The mental health services, in Iqaluit, are far from perfect, but they are improving.
    CAMH has great online resources.
    I’d like to see workshops in each community that offer resources and self-help, available to all the public. We’ve all been affected and so many need the help.

  2. Posted by LB on

    What would be nice to see is a report explaining the situation more. 37 thousand people in Nunavut with on average 25 suicides a year with how much spent specifically on suicide prevention coming in at $50 million in addition to whatever the Inuit orgs, health and social spend on “prevention” and general mental wellness this sort of analysis about what is working and what is not would help us understand. Less inflammatory talk and more real analysis would help us find answers. So much waste that we do not even know about because we are happy to get stuck in the first layer of smoke an mirrors.

    • Posted by Simon K on

      yaaassss queen! I think ITK has a suicide prevention plan separate from the the suicide action plan that GN has so people are being paid well and there is stuff out there. We never hear the GN suicide epidemiologist speak to news????? A break down of costs please!

      • Posted by DocM on

        When they shuffled the cabinet did you see there is a department at GN called Quality of Life that do suicide prevention whats the story there? Like all the Inuit organizations they too have a policy person. Makes you wonder about wasted money or doing the same old over and over.

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