Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad
Suicide on the agenda

Inuit youth meet in Inuvik

Lynn Lau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Feb 11/02) - Suicide and suicide prevention were top priorities at the National Inuit Youth Summit in Inuvik Feb. 1 to 4.

About 40 delegates, including youth and youth workers from most of Canada's Inuit communities, spent part of the day Monday brainstorming ways to reduce the incidence of suicide in their communities.

"All regions are touched by suicide, either by friends and family or peers," said Adamie Padlayat, a youth worker from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, in northern Quebec. "We've all been hurt so much by it."

Padlayat said the workshop was a good way for regions to share information and inspire one another to make positive changes.

Grieving workshops, more culture and language camps, exchange programs with other aboriginal and non-aboriginal youth, and suicide hotlines were among the suggested remedies to curb the high suicide rate among Inuit youth.

Other suggestions included introducing suicide prevention to younger children, and having youth create a video to show their peers how people are hurt by suicide.

"Youth don't think people care about them," said 23-year-old delegate Ria Kisoun of Inuvik. "So much change has happened from my great-grandmother's time. A long time ago, people were self-sufficient. They were out on the land, they didn't have time to wallow in sorrow. Our self-sufficiency has been taken away from us.

"Our young people are suffering because they are lost."

The discussion will contribute to an action plan that might help youth influence their community leaders, said Pitseolak Pfeifer, director of socioeconomic development for the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (formerly the Inuit Tapirisat), the association of Canadian Inuit that organized the event.