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Makimautiksat program has strong record against suicide

Mental health outreach worker Brittany Holm teamed-up with Tuugaalik High School’s community counsellor, Jennifer Kadjuk, to deliver the Makimautiksat Youth Wellness and Empowerment program to a senior high class shortly before the end of the school year in Naujaat recently.

Holm said the Makimautiksat program is an evidence-based, community- and land-based program.

She said the program is designed to expand on the known protective factors for youth in the prevention of suicide, and the promotion of wellness.

Tuugaalik High School Grade 10 students, from left, Bridgette Mallik and Heather Innaksajak and Grade 12 students Tracy Laine Kidlapik and Idga Kridluar land a few while on the school’s landtrip in support of the Makimautiksat Program in Naujaat on May 22. Photo courtesy Julia MacPherson

“Since the program began in 2013, not one participant who attended the entire program has died by suicide,” said Holm.

“Developed, piloted and evaluated from 2010-2015, the Makimautiksat program is based on an evidence-based model for supporting Inuit adolescent mental health, which was developed by the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre (QHRC), and published in the International Journal for Indigenous Health.”

The Makimautiksat Youth Camp program is delivered by a pair of facilitators and includes a minimum mandatory land component.

Holm said if circumstances, and student-and-teacher schedules, can’t be worked out for the implementation of a two-week camp to deliver the Makimautiksat program, it can be delivered as an after school drop-in program over the fall and winter months, ending with a land camp in the spring.

This model has also shown some success, although they are still evaluating its overall effectiveness.

“With permission from the QHRC, we choose to do the program twice a week throughout the second semester with the senior class in Naujaat,” she said.

“The Makimautiksat is the Inuktitut term for building a foundation within oneself, as the Eight Ujarait/Rocks Model and the Makimautiksat Youth Camp program celebrate the spirit of the whole child, and the strengths and capabilities of our young people in Nunavut.

“The model for this camp includes a series of activities designed to incorporate both Western knowledge and Inuit Qaujimajtu Makimautiksat  qangit into a program which celebrates all forms of knowledge and child development.

“During their time in this program, the students  learned about strengthening coping skills, fostering healthy relationships, nurturing awareness of the body, crafting and exploring creativity, fostering personal and community wellness, encouraging self-discovery and future planning, understanding informed choices and peer pressure and, lastly, celebrating the land and connecting knowledge and skills while out on the land.”