Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 09, 2012 - 9:50 am

Youth, women, elders want more from KIA, government

“Without things for kids to do, vandalism increases”

JANE GEORGE
Tetra Otokiak, second from left, speaks to the Kitikmeot Inuit Association's annual general meeting in Cambridge Bay on Oct. 4 with other youth delegates. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Tetra Otokiak, second from left, speaks to the Kitikmeot Inuit Association's annual general meeting in Cambridge Bay on Oct. 4 with other youth delegates. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Elders go over their notes for what they want to tell delegates at the Kitikmeot Inuit Association's annual general meeting Oct. 4 in Cambridge Bay. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Elders go over their notes for what they want to tell delegates at the Kitikmeot Inuit Association's annual general meeting Oct. 4 in Cambridge Bay. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Women representing the five communities in Nunavut's Kitikmeot region speak Oct. 4 to delegates at the Kitikmeot Inuit Association annual general meeting in Cambridge Bay. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Women representing the five communities in Nunavut's Kitikmeot region speak Oct. 4 to delegates at the Kitikmeot Inuit Association annual general meeting in Cambridge Bay. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

CAMBRIDGE BAY —Everyone in Nunavut’s Kitikmeot region, whether they’re young or old, yearn for more youth centres and elders cabins, along with a stronger sense of community, language and culture.

That’s what youth, women and elders told delegates at the Kitikmeot Inuit Association’s annual general meeting: they want places to gather so they can learn from each other.

“Without things for kids to do, vandalism increases, substance abuse will increase,” Pauline Pauloosie, 16, of Taloyoak, told the AGM Oct. 4 in the youth report to the meeting.

Without a youth centre or even a larger airport terminal, where youth in Taloyoak can mingle with travelers, “the kids who are happy today might not be happy in the future,” she said.

In Kugluktuk, Beverly Anablak, 21, spoke about risky behaviours among youth, such as unsupervised rock climbing and gas sniffing, which recently killed a boy in her community.

Variations of those messages also came from youth in Gjoa Haven where the youth centre, often a target for vandalism, remains closed and in need of renovation, and from Bathurst and Bay Chimo, where the store and school remain closed.

In Cambridge Bay, Tetra Otokiak,15, said that, even with the community’s youth centre, youth crave more recreational activities, such as sports, Inuit games, dances and activities with elders.

“We want to be more engaged with elders, women and men, so we can be together as a community,” she said.

The youth called for the KIA for help provide more education about the dangers of substance abuse, establishing youth centres, having more exposure to Inuinnaqtun and access to cultural activities, such as the Makimautiksat camps and elder and youth camps.

“We want to be able to speak Inuinnaqtun in the future, so we can teach our kids so our kids can teach their kids to speak and learn our culture,” said Chania Kapolak of Bathurst Inlet.

Women also stressed the need for interaction with youth and elders and help in finding “healthy alternatives to gambling, alcohol and other unhealthy behaviours.”

They want to see more access to relationship counselling, teaching of parenting skills and more interaction with youth and elders, along with crisis centres and safe houses for men and women.

In Gjoa Haven, young mothers with children are trying to raise children on their own, and “people aren’t learning the life skills they need to become happy and productive lives.”

Elders told the KIA meeting that they try to pass on their language and help families learn parenting skills.

But it’s not easy.

Where there’s a facility such as Cambridge Bay’s May Hakongak cultural centre and a group like the Kitikmeot Heritage Sociey, elders get together more.

But elders would like to see elders cabins in all Kitikmeot communities.

Youth, women and elders put their recommendations in resolutions to the KIA, which will then see what it can do internally or how it can seek money for the programs.

This year, however, the KIA had trouble getting some of its project proposals approved.

The Government of Nunavut’s new Department of Culture and Heritage approves few project proposals submitted by the KIA, said Helen Larocque, the director of the KIA’s department of beneficiary services.

Of five projects seeking GN money, which included projects for spring and summer Inuit Qaujimatuqaangit camps, an elders’ gathering and a return of the sun celebration, a project to edit drum dance songs was the sole project to get GN money.

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