NTI, Nunavut government put on trauma workshop in Repulse Bay
“We need trauma treatment for a lot more people”
Jack Anawak, a vice president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., visited his home community of Repulse Bay this week for a workshop where he, along with Premier Eva Aariak, are promoting how Nunavummiut can heal from trauma,
The workshop, funded by the Embrace Life Council, brought people to Repulse Bay from other communities, including Kugaaruk, Igloolik and Pond Inlet, to talk about mental health issues such as suicide.
“What we really need to deal with in Nunavut is the mental health and deal with trauma treatment for a lot more people,” Anawak said in an interview from Repulse Bay.
Without treatment, many people get into problems with alcohol and drug abuse to cope with their past trauma, said Anawak, who recently entered a rehab program after an arrest for impaired driving.
Although elders and youth are involved in the workshops, which continue until Nov. 17, Anawak said there should a greater focus on healing for middle-aged adults.
“Too much of the focus has been on elders and youth, and people, middle-aged people seem to get forgotten in the process,” he said.
During the day, the 70 people attending the workshops have learned how to get past difficult issues, such as trauma from sexual and physical abuse, and alcohol and drug abuse, or “everything that falls under social issues in communities.”
“It’s to see how [these] community members can be more involved in terms of providing stability in communities,” he said.
The effort is considered to be part of the “process of suicide prevention,” by teaching life-coping skills, Inuit culture, and going beyond the trauma that people have experienced.
“In the past there was colonialism, and in Baffin there was the dog slaughter [and] then there was the relocation issues [with] Grise Fiord and Resolute,” Anawak said.
So far, the workshops have gone well, Anawak said, adding that at a Nov. 14 feast he, along with Aariak and Akulliq MLA John Ningark, handed out Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medals Paul Malliki and Gabriel Kaunak.
While Repulse Bay was chosen for this week’s workshop, it hasn’t yet seen a workshop on applied suicide intervention skills training, or ASIST training, Anawak said.
That program, renamed the Uqaqqatigiiluk! Let’s Talk About It, has been adapted from a program in the South.
It’s designed to help people in Nunavut talk about suicide with each other and intervene if they have to.
The rolling out of Uqaqqatigiiluk! Let’s Talk About It, or ASIST is part of the territory’s suicide prevention strategy action plan, which is currently being implemented after being tabled in September 2011.
The fourth commitment of the strategy is that the GN “will deliver suicide intervention training on a consistent and comprehensive basis.”
While the training hasn’t taken place in every Nunavut community yet, Anawak said there is an ongoing plan to do just that.
“I plan to push a lot more people to take the ASIST training, so that people can not just recognize but intervene when they see troubled people, because we have been too reluctant to intervene.”
Anawak said he’s taken ASIST himself and intends to take more so that he may deliver a workshop in the future.