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Ayalik Fund receives $22,000 from Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund

Group to offer counselling services on trips following contribution
The Ayalik Fund is planning three major canoe trips for the summer of 2022, two of which will be taking place around Yellowknife. NNSL file photo

The Ayalik Fund and the Canadian Canoe Foundation has received a $22,000 grant from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund to support positive mental health among Inuit youth.

“This allows us to support the Ayalik program in a very meaningful way,” said Patrick Henry, chair and founder of the Canadian Canoe Foundation.

Ayalik and the Canadian Canoe Foundation will be organizing three major canoe trips planned for summer 2022 for Inuit ages 14 to 17.

In the summer of 2021 Ayalik helped fund canoe trips for youth in Yellowknife, bringing together participants from Coral Harbour, Cambridge Bay, Taloyoak, Kugaaruk and Baker Lake.

The $22,000 specifically will be to support the provision of mental health and resilience counselling, before, during and after the canoe trips.

Two of these trips will be organized by Jackpine Paddle in Yellowknife while the third will be for older boys in Temagami, northern Ontario. Each of these trips will have an experienced wilderness counsellor joining them.

“She will help the youth deal with the issues that almost inevitably arise, at least for some, during a challenging trip of this nature,” said David Pelly, father of Eric Ayalik Pelly, for whom the Ayalik Fund is named.

The counsellor, Pelly adds, will also help the youth with some of the challenges they may carry with them from home in addition to the stresses of being away from family.

“Bell Let’s Talk is pleased to help the Canadian Canoe Foundation and the Ayalik Fund provide Inuit youth in Nunavut with outdoor experiences to help support their mental health and wellness,” said Mary Deacon, chair of Bell Let’s Talk.

The extra support will go a long way toward making a difference for Inuit youth in Nunavut according to its organizers.

“We believe this is a major step forward in the development of our program, toward making a significant difference in the lives of young Nunavummiut,” said Pelly.

Eric Ayalik Pelly was a young Inuk who enjoyed canoeing but unfortunately passed away at age 19 from sudden cardiac arrhythmia. Today the Ayalik Fund organizes on the land trips for Inuit youth, with activities including backpacking, canoeing, sailing and other cultural immersion programs to help youth by giving them positive experiences from such activities.