Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit September 24, 2012 - 9:31 am

Kamatsiaqtut help line seeks volunteers

Iqaluit-based help line to host Sept. 24 info session at Inuksuk High School

SAMANTHA DAWSON

If you think you might be interested in becoming a volunteer with the Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line, head over to the library of Iqaluit’s Inuksuk High School at 7 p.m. on Sept. 24.

You’ll be able to learn more about the the help line — and you’ll also help select the dates for the additional training days you’ll need before you can answer the phone at the help line center.

“It’s absolutely critical that our volunteers get trained,” said Sheila Levy, executive director of the volunteer-run help line. 

Since 1990, the help line has been a resource for people who are in crisis and need someone to talk to.

The training will help volunteers with there listening and communication skills and also include information on crisis management, sexual health and suicide prevention.

The group will also learn ways to handle different types of calls – which can sometimes be hard-to-handle.

“It’s really important people realize what they’re getting into,” said Levy.

Help line volunteers can field up to 13 calls a night, although, on average, they receive about two.

But, no matter how many calls they answer, “it’s really important that people are there,” Levy said.

People call in from across Nunavut and Nunavik, as well as from Montreal and Ottawa, to talk to volunteers in French, English or Inuktitut.

Most callers are from the North, because “they just feel more comfortable” talking to the Iqaluit-based help line, Levy said.

Volunteers must be at least 16 years old.

A team of 70 volunteers — some still there since Kamatsiaqtut’s launch in 1990 — operate the help line from 7:00 p.m. to midnight every day.

Kamatsiaqtut runs on about $100,000 a year — some of that is government funding, but the majority comes from community donations, so volunteers are key to the organization, Levy said.

The Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut help line can be reached in Iqaluit at (867) 979-3333 or toll-free at 1 (800) 265-3333.

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