Suicide crusader tired but happy

“I see people who have lost their sons and daughters and fathers and mothers”



They wake up every morning at seven, start paddling at nine, and don’t finish until six in the evening. It’s a hard life, but half-way into a six-week kayaking tour of Nunavik, Ainalik Qavavauk is happy he came.

Qavavauk, 32, is one of six kayakers traveling from Kuujjuaraapik to Akulivik by kayak this summer to raise awareness about suicide.

Leaving his spouse and two daughters, aged 5 and nine months, to join the adventure was “heartbreaking,” Qavavauk said, speaking by telephone from Puvirnituq last Friday, but he wanted to help end the plague of suicide.

“I see a lot of people who have lost their sons and daughters and fathers and mothers by suicide,” Qavavauk said.

He joined the trip to personally spread the message that suicide is not the answer, and that someone cares about everyone who is even contemplating ending their life.

Most of the trip is purely physical. The paddlers can cover 26 to 30 miles in a day and there has been some rough weather to reckon with. The group spent five days in camp near Umiujaq when the water was rough. One day, they encountered waves that were over five feet tall.

“I think it was taller than me,” Qavavauk said. “It was fun, but I was sure that God was helping me while I was paddling.”

Unusually warm weather added to the physical challenge. According to Qavavauk, the community visits aren’t always easy either. At each community, the kayakers stop to talk to local people about their adventure and about suicide.

“I was shy the first time but when I go to each village, I see different people and they’re getting friendlier every time,” Qavavauk said.

Last Friday, Qavavauk was getting ready to go on FM radio in Puvirnituq.

“There are over 1,000 people in POV so I’m expecting a lot of calls.”

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