Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. – released the “2015-2017 Annual Report on the State of Inuit Culture and Society entitled Resilience in Life”, which focuses on pathways to reducing suicide in Nunavut. “Some of our youth grow up believing that suicide is part of our culture. It is not. It is a symptom of colonization and on-going social and economic inequities that cause distress among too many Nunavut Inuit. Resilience in Life outlines a path forward to wellness based on Inuit-specific, evidence-based policy approaches”, said Acting President James Eetoolook.
The SICS report recommends that governments aim to create social equity among Nunavut Inuit by implementing Article 32 of the Nunavut Agreement to address persistent gaps in areas such as housing, formal education, food security, and health care.
NTI encourages the Government of Nunavut and the Government of Canada take heed to recommendations in the report. The recommendations will require collaboration, resource sharing and thinking about broad approaches to our shared goal. Colonialism and intergenerational trauma under- pin the social and economic inequity affecting many Nunavut Inuit. Experiences, such as residential schooling, relocation, dog slaughter, and the loss of loved ones to epidemic diseases, have left deep im- prints on our society. The rapid social and cultural transitions that coincided with these experiences gave rise to social challenges that we now under- stand as suicide risk factors, such as addictions, childhood adversity, and mental illness. These social challenges are compounded by inequities, such as lack of access to housing and health services, low educational attainment and employment, and food insecurity, that prevent many Inuit from reaching their highest levels of health and wellness.
The suicide rate among Inuit in the eastern Arctic first rose above the national rate for all Canadians in the early 1970s. This generation of Inuit was the first to grow up in settlements, where many people were exposed to a host of risk factors for suicide. Successive generations of Inuit have continued to experience social inequities and their associated challenges because governments have never provided reciprocal investments in social equity or adequate services and supports to meet the needs of Inuit in our own languages.
The GN has twice declared suicide a crisis and has yet to fully implement the 2010–2014 Nunavut Suicide Prevention Strategy Action Plan, the development of which is the most significant suicide prevention action taken to date by the GN.