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NTI Recognizes World Suicide Prevention Day

NR 04-29 SUI ENG Suicide Prevention Day.doc

(September 9, 2004 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) A day before the international community recognizes World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. President Paul Kaludjak today acknowledged the extensive suicide prevention work being undertaken by Nunavummiut.

Whether it is the critical frontline work being done at the community level, or the efforts of the newly-formed Isaksimagit Innusirmi Katujjigatigiit (Embrace Life Council), many Nunavummiut are working hard to end the epidemic of suicide we are experiencing in Nunavut, said Kaludjak.

Everyone in Nunavut is impacted by suicide. We must recognize World Suicide Prevention Day to remind ourselves of the importance of this work to all Nunavummiut. Everyone is important to us, he said.

In 2002, the Board of Directors made suicide prevention a top priority of NTI’s Department of Social and Cultural Development. This led to a variety of initiatives and activities. First, NTI contributed $300,000 to the 2003 meeting of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) in Iqaluit. To follow up on the recommendations and momentum generated by the CASP Conference, NTI then joined the Government of Nunavut and other organizations in forming the Embrace Life Council. NTI is providing financial and in-kind support to the Council.

NTI is also using the rights contained in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in support of suicide prevention efforts. This includes the Inuit right to participate in the design of government social policies and programs under Article 32, and the right of Inuit under Article 2 to access federal government programs available to other Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.

NTI takes the view that priority should be given to tackling the underlying causes of suicide, including lack of job prospects, poor housing, and improving counseling services. Accordingly, NTI played a leading role with the GN and other groups in preparing Nunavut’s first Economic Development Strategy and forming the Nunavut Economic Forum. NTI has also joined the GN in a major initiative to secure federal funding for expanded social housing in Nunavut.

In addition, NTI is studying the feasibility of a drug and alcohol treatment centre for Nunavut, and is well advanced in the delivery of the Qauma Mobile Treatment Program, an initiative to treat the effects associated with abuse Inuit suffered under the residential school system.

Using the Land Claim and our political weight, NTI has joined with the GN and other organizations to work on the economic and social root causes of suicide, and overcome the desperation caused by these challenges, said Kaludjak. By joining together, we can pool our resources and efforts. We are then better able to combat the social and economic problems that all too often lead Inuit to take their own lives, he said.

For further information:

Kerry McCluskey
Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated