The month of June started off really bad in Nunavik. We lost a handful of youth to drowning and suicide, and a few more of our elders passed away, all in the first 2 weeks of the month. This year is unusual in the sense that a lot of people have actually drowned, it does and has happened in the past, but for a span of 3 or 4 days, we lost four very bright young men. This was a huge blow to the youth of Nunavik, we lost some of our own.. each of those boys was someone’s brother, someone’s uncle, father, boyfriend, cousin, namesake and most of all, friend. One of our young women committed suicide this month as well.. I know, it’s hard to read this or believe it.. but that’s so normal –not because it’s ok, but because it’s a fact of life. Suicide is woven into the fabric of Nunavik whether we want to hear it or not; it’s true. It’s like a predator in the shadows, always, always there.. you can feel it breathing on your neck, but you never know when it’s going to strike –but you know it will. We live life always braced for that news.. it’s something we expect to hear when we do hear it.. it’s not unusual. The loss of our elders is not something we can easily cope with either. We lost a lot of knowledge, experience and love when they passed. Not only are elders valuable for knowledge, but grandparents and great grandparents are a vital part of a family.. the loss of an elder is a devastating hit to an entire community, as well as the region as a whole and the general Inuit population.
I know, tragedy is part of life and life is what we’re here for.. but this is the kind of thing that makes people wonder if it’s all worth it, or what it’s all for. These were traumatic events in our history.. but i don’t want to dwell on that too much, I just wanted to give some context –this post will actually end on a very happy note.
The first ever Qanak conference was held in Inukjuak at the end of June. Qanak was an initiative by Nunalituqait Ikajuqaitigiitut and Saputiit Youth Association, I was on the Steering Committee of this conference. The steering committee has been working since September to get this moving (although i only joined in February). So when someone suggested we cancel due to the current circumstances, there was no question. There was no way we were going to cancel. We felt that in light of everything that happened, we needed more than ever to make this happen.. So we did. We wanted to give a breath of new life to the young people. The workshops we had included topics like Cultural Oppression, Complex Trauma, Parenting, Finances, Leadership, and others. It feels like sometimes, Inuit Youth in Nunavik are very isolated from things, basic things like services and even information. Qanak was meant to bridge that gap of knowledge, to give people what they wanted to know or to show them who they could ask. We very successfully accomplished that last month. Not to mention the fact that it was organized, entirely by Inuit youth with an overwhelming majority of Inuit staff and support (truly, truly, truly by Inuit youth, for Inuit youth). Many young people are already hoping to sign up for next year! This was something to be proud of. //new paragraph//I think with all the drama, all the pain and trauma we still face, Qanak was able to give light to the end of the tunnel; still a very long tunnel, but one now where we can see relief. I have hope for the future, knowing people are not being denied basic knowledge like financial support, parenting and social services (or at least that people are more aware of all these things), and that youth are rising up, taking their places and standing on their own. We get through so much together, Qanak will only help us be stronger. JCG.
**As anonymous as i’m trying to keep myself, i think it’s pretty much impossible considering my experiences to keep my identity very secret, just don’t tell any creepy internet stalkers who i am, k?
J.C. will be blogging twice a month on all things North. We are happy to offer her this space as an independent writer, to express her ideas, and to engage our visitors in discussion about Inuit and the North.
Avataq is pleased to welcome J.C. Grey to its website. J.C. will be blogging twice a month on all things North. We are happy to offer her this space as an independent writer, to express her ideas, and to engage our visitors in discussion about Inuit and the North.
J.C. is a talented writer, and as a young Inuk from a small town in Nunavik, her work communicates a fresh perspective on Inuit and the arctic.
Part of Avataq’s mandate in publications is to encourage young Inuit to create and publish new works, and to express their ideas through writing. This blog is offered as a forum for young Nunavimmiut in particular to participate in thoughtful discussion on topics that concern them.
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