Nunavut marks World Suicide Prevention Day, Sept. 10, as day to embrace life
Cambridge Bay hosts week of suicide awareness and prevention activities
Nunavut marks World Suicide Prevention day today, Sept. 10, as Embrace Life Day, a time to remember those lost to suicide and to support suicide prevention.
With that, communities throughout the territory will put on events with help from the Iqaluit-based Embrace Life Council, a non-profit organization devoted to advancing a territory-wide suicide prevention strategy.
The territory’s largest communities, including Iqaluit, Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet, will hold candlelight vigils in the evening, with added events.
Baker Lake will hold a community feast to celebrate the day, following suicide prevention events held in the community in August, said Jenny Tierney, executive director of the Embrace Life Council.
Such events, said Tierney, draw community members together “to support each other, and to start to break down the walls that we have around the stigma that’s associated with mental health and suicide.”
Embrace Life Day is also a chance “to let people know what resources are available to them” when it comes to suicide prevention and mental health, she said.
Leading the way with this year’s events organized by the council is Cambridge Bay, where the group launched a week-long series of events on Sept. 9.
After last year’s successful set of similar events held in Iqaluit, including workshops, outdoor activities and community gatherings, the council decided to take the effort to communities in other regions of Nunavut — starting with the Kitikmeot region.
“Having the event here has really brought a lot of service providers together,” Tierney said from Cambridge Bay on Sept. 9, the opening day of events. “There’s a lot more talk about what the community could be doing, and they’re really excited about that.”
Events opened with a presentation to elders on grief and elder abuse that afternoon.
On Sept. 10, Embrace Life Day, the council will put on a walk starting at the community hall at 7 p.m., followed by a candlelight vigil at the hall at 8 p.m.
Iqaluit will also hold a vigil at 8 p.m., at Iqaluit Square in front of the elders’ qammaq. Similar events are planned for Rankin Inlet and Taloyoak, Tierney said.
In Kugluktuk, a walk is planned to start off from the Kugluktuk High School at 2 p.m.
Cambridge Bay’s week of events continues with the opening of a fishing program for young men in the community on Sept. 11, given by two to three elders, Tierney said, who will teach fishing as well as offer counsel on troubles participants may want to discuss.
The first group will meet at the community hall at 1 p.m. to go to Mount Pelly, with transportation from the Wellness Centre.
On Sept. 12, organizers will offer a presentation on stigma and grief at the Luke Novoligak Community Hall at 2 p.m., followed by a feast with entertainment from about 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The council promises to take a similar series of events in connection with Embrace Life Day to a community in the Kivalliq region, said Tierney, as part of its ongoing effort to advance suicide prevention.
The council’s efforts are part of the Nunavut Suicide Prevention Strategy, set up in partnership with Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the RCMP. The strategy’s long term goal is to curb suicide rates in Nunavut, which are the highest of any province or territory in the country.
In Ottawa on Sept. 10, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami plans to co-host an event at the Parliament buildings in Ottawa that will feature Inuit leaders and performers.