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A sober March of crafts

Embrace Life Council offers place to gather
Haley White, Kivalliq program coordinator with Embrace Life Council, holds up some of the crafts available at her Rankin Inlet office during the March sobriety month of activities. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

Raised in Rankin Inlet, Haley White has seen changes in the community since the opening of the beer and wine store in 2021.

“I have definitely seen a more negative change in our community,” said White, program co-ordinator at Embrace Life Council. “I have seen how it affects the residents of my community. It’s really heartbreaking.”

Beer cans on the land and worries for intoxicated people navigating their way home in poor conditions have been part of that negative change.

But on her end, White used March to promote sobriety and positive, family-friendly activities through Embrace Life Council.

Each week, residents could pick up changing craft kits – some for print making, mitt making and more – and hang out at the Embrace Life Council office to socialize, craft around and have a safe place to gather. They were also entered into draws for prizes like Calm Air tickets and material bundles.

“Everybody has given such positive feedback,” said White. “It’s a nice, pleasant feeling. The residents are like, ‘Yeah, you should keep doing this, it’s amazing, it’s keeping us active, keeping us busy.’”

She’s hoping to get more feedback as the month comes to a close about what to improve and alter for next time. One thing she knows she wants to continue is keeping her office open into the evening for drop-ins.

“I’m super proud of the participants,” said White. “They’re doing so amazing. It’s – I don’t want to say amazing again – it’s so amazing seeing people come in, and their children are allowed to come in to be with them. We have a lot of art supplies, we have games, puzzles, everything you need to come and enjoy a nice relaxing evening, afternoon or morning.”

She’s been keeping the office open until 9 or 10 p.m. on drop-in nights for people who can’t visit during regular work hours. By the third week of March, more than 150 people had come through for the program, said White.

As the March sobriety month comes to a close, Embrace Life Council continues pursuing its anti-suicide mission through a variety of workshops, initiatives and programs.

“We want to run programs for the residents of Nunavut to prevent suicide and promote good mental health and mental wellness,” said White.