Families under stress
Never enough resources to go around, family services workers

Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Dec 07/98) - Christmas is just around the corner and, for some people, it's the most stressful time of the year.

This comes as no surprise for those who are aware of the Family Health Index survey conducted in late October which showed that 92 per cent of Canadians believe families are under more stress than ever before.

And, for some people, nowhere is this more true than in the North where a large part of the population live in isolated communities with often limited resources.

"This time of year, in particular, is stressful for some," said Evelyn Thordarson, executive director of the Kataujaq Society Safe Shelter in Rankin Inlet.

And, in the communities, she added, getting help can be difficult, even when there is some available because of the problems with anonymity in the settlements.

"We had an inter-agency fair here in Rankin at the craft fair recently so that people could get help," she said. "They were able to take the info."

Paul Conway, executive director of NWT Family Services, agrees that it is often difficult to get help to the people who need it most. Sometimes, he added, it's because of a lack of resources related to the small population.

"With the small population, it's harder to get the professionals in place," he said.

And, for NWT Family Services worker Claire-Anne Bouchard in Hay River, the answer would be more resources to help deal with the stresses involved with making the dollars stretch to deal with alcoholism and numerous other social issues affecting families.

"Basically, the lack of services -- a lot of people rely on family for support in the communities and, if your family isn't giving you that, there's often nowhere else," she said. "The isolation and the loneliness for some people is a big stress. It might be more visible here."