Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut April 25, 2016 - 8:30 am

Nunavut Arctic College students foster wellness in Cambridge Bay

Future social workers mobilize to combat family violence

JANE GEORGE
Ruth Oyukuluk, a student in Nunavut Arctic College's social services program, tends a qulliq at the student-organized community forum on family violence at Cambridge Bay's Luke Novoligak hall. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Ruth Oyukuluk, a student in Nunavut Arctic College's social services program, tends a qulliq at the student-organized community forum on family violence at Cambridge Bay's Luke Novoligak hall. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
People discuss their ideas for curbing family violence in one of four break-out groups held during a wellness event April 21 in Cambridge Bay. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
People discuss their ideas for curbing family violence in one of four break-out groups held during a wellness event April 21 in Cambridge Bay. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

CAMBRIDGE BAY — When people talk, they gain control over family violence.

That was the message April 21 in Cambridge Bay, delivered by students in Nunavut Arctic College’s social services program at a forum on family violence, which they organized for the community: “You are not helping or protecting someone who has hurt you or someone in your family or a friend by not talking about it.”

At the event, attended by about 60 residents of all ages, the social services program’s eight students talked about where to get help and then asked everyone for suggestions on how “your life can be different.”

The focus of the get-together was timely: 2016 police statistics in Cambridge Bay show some residents of this western Nunavut community need help.

At a recent council meeting, police said they’re worried about how boozy house parties disturb the social peace. 

Right now, with a permit, you can order in or bring as much alcohol as you wish into Cambridge Bay. Although some people in town pushed for a 2011 liquor plebiscite to see tighter controls over the flow of alcohol, that vote never took place.

The number of calls for service to police this past March involving alcohol stood at 75 — up from the March 2015 tally of 67, the RCMP reports show.

And to date this year, more than 50 people a month have ended up in police cells — in March, 62 were incarcerated, with the total for 2016 now standing at 164.

Police also report youth have committed more than 100 acts of mischief since the beginning of 2016: 36 incidents in March, 35 in February and 42 in January — up from the same period in 2015.

April may see an even higher number of reports of vandalism. On the morning of Saturday, April 16, some began their weekend with the discovery that their truck tires had been slashed.

The vandalized vehicles belonged to the Cambridge Bay Housing Authority and the Government of Nunavut as well as to local residents.

Also this month, vandals damaged Kitnuna’s offices and windows at the Helen Maksagak building.

But vandalism is not the only type of incident that has required police intervention in 2016 — the RCMP also reported that threats of suicide have averaged between four and 14 per month so far this year.

Last September, the RCMP detachment said it hoped to reduce crime with a plan to “humanize” police, by visiting schools and hosting more outreach activities and working with high-risk youth and their families.

At the April 21 event, the Wellness Centre, operated by the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay, also reached out to people to explain the centre’s many programs — which include a mentoring program for youth, counselling and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

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