Editorial page

Monday, March 27, 2000

Action needed

The quick action promised by the director of corrections following the inquest into the suicide of Daniel Troy Harrington is a good sign.

Thirty-six-year old Harrington was discovered dead, hanging from a bed sheet in his jail cell on Aug. 12.

Addicted to valium, his daily dosage had been reduced just prior to committing suicide.

Worse, inmates who found Harrington couldn't get any attention of staff members, despite waving frantically in front of a security camera, and had to use a pay phone to get help.

It's not surprising that the jury hearing evidence during an inquest led by NWT Chief Coroner Percy Kinney made 32 recommendations, including hiring a full-time drug and alcohol specialist and installing an intercom. Let's hope the commitment to act on the recommendations becomes a reality.

Workers care

You see them all the time: snazzy jackets bearing the wearer's name and how many accident free days they have worked. Or hats. Or belt buckles.

You won't see Fort Smith Power Corp. workers wearing any fancy new duds. Their safety conscience is for everyone to see at the community's health centre.

For their efforts in achieving an accident-free year, the workers were rewarded by NWT Power Corp.

They used the $10,000 safety reward to buy a Sigmoidoscope, an expensive piece of equipment that is used to perform an internal examination without surgery.

It's a donation that shows how much the workers are committed to their community. They all deserve a big pat on the back.

Healing words

Healing wordsClyde River's Ilisaqsivik Society is making positive strides in the way of creating connections with people in their community.

Based on a $30,000 grant, local translators have been furiously selecting written healing materials to translate into Inuktitut -- a first in the community.

Feedback has been positive all round and workers at the society say the spinoffs have included a little healing of their own.

Unfortunately, the project is over at the end of this month, but the benefits to people's mental and physical well-being will continue to surface far beyond this fiscal year.

A glimmer of hope for all of us

Suicide. Somehow, some way, over the last three decades, it has become an accepted answer to the problems that can arise in life.

That holds particularly true in Nunavut where the number of loved ones we lose to suicide is several times higher then the national average.

Problems pile up and people choose to end their own lives. Appropriate programs which would allow us to grieve and heal properly have not always been accessible.

All of those things, combined with an absence of learned problem solving skills, have come to mean that Nunavummiut, and particularly our youth, are at high risk.

For too many years, that trend was allowed to go unchecked. When and if attention was paid, it was often in the form of ineffective programs. The cloak of silence and secrecy has continued to prevail around the issue until it has reached almost epidemic proportions.

Thankfully, the tides are slowly turning and in communities around the territory, hamlet-based initiatives are popping up and having a real effect on the emotional health of our residents.

That glimmer of hope received an additional boost last week when Finance Minister Kelvin Ng handed down his budget.

Committing his government to increasing financial resources for suicide prevention and intervention training, Ng also said in his budget speech that funds would be allotted to provide bereavement support for individuals and communities.

Such a commitment can only mean that prevention and healing groups in Nunavut will be able to continue their work in a supportive and productive manner.

Nunavummiut are at long last starting to talk about the pain suicide brings. With the money promised by the GN, those introductory steps to ending years of cyclical suffering can be furthered.

Bright lights

Baker Lake's Chris Cooper and Rejean Lamarre are on to something good with their winning science project.

The pair's entry -- the formula to create polarized sunglasses -- won them a berth at the National Science Fair in London, Ontario in mid-May.

What's so special about their project is their innovative mix of culture and heritage with modern technology.

Their discovery that polarized sunglasses are extremely similar in design to the traditional Inuit snow goggles worn by their forefathers is intriguing.

Congratulations, for a job well done. Now all they need is to get designing.