New digs
Addiction projects focusing on education

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (May 10/00) - The new office of the Rankin Inlet Aqsaaraq Addiction Projects is just the beginning of things to come.

"We're going to become more active in the community with awareness and education," says Projects co-ordinator Beth Thomas.

"We'll be going into all three schools to help back the teachers up by providing support and information we have on the cutting edge."

Aqsaaraq moved into its new digs, located in the old CBC building, this past month.

The main room is spacious, with plenty of information on the walls. The counselling room is adorned with a number of wall hangings, and there is library and video room, complete with three-dimensional posters.

The new space is more of an office environment, which offers more stability to clients, says Thomas.

"It adds an air of professionalism over the home environment and there's also the safety factor with other offices in the building.

"The most antagonized people we get are, shall we say, 'local pharmaceutical representatives,' upset because some of their 'clients' have decreased their consumption or quit all together.

"I've been called at home at 1 a.m. and threatened because we've had success with a client."

Barbara Nakoolak, an alcohol and drug counsellor, deals with clients who only speak Inuktitut. She says their efforts are making a difference.

"Most of the calls I get are of an emergency nature when people need to speak to someone right away," says Nakoolak.

"I can't believe the difference in the number of people I see here as compared to when I worked in Coral Harbour, but to tell the truth, this is the first job I've ever had that I truly love doing."

The workers have 15 regular clients and about 60 people drop by the office weekly.

Thomas says they are working closely with the hamlet's mental health worker, conducting monthly case conferences.

"We'll work on case plans and how best to meet a client's needs.

"However, that's only if the client signs a waiver to allow us to make that kind of a commitment. Otherwise, what's said here is completely private."