What should programming for young men look like in the Kivalliq?
That’s the question Atii Angutiit posed during community tours in December.
Though the group made it to only three communities before blizzards and Covid-19 interrupted travel plans, the suggestions had already tallied into the triple digits.
“We came to the communities with an open mind,” said Sam Tutanuak, senior adviser with the Department of Health, musician and one of the hosts of the Atii Angutiit tours. “We had no idea what was going to be said. It was truly an experience that we did not anticipate.”
His department is working with the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre to gather feedback from young men in the Kivalliq about the type of programming they would like to see. The Atii Angutiit gatherings featured workshops, discussions and music. Inuk rapper Hyper-T, Nelson Tagoona and others contributed to the upbeat energy at the meetings.
Community members had more ideas than anyone expected, ranging from traditional hunting practices and tool-making to self-defence classes, public speaking and photography.
“It’s from the community level up, not from the top down,” said Tutanuak.
Once the tours are completed, Pulaarvik will draft a report about the ideas and ways to make them a reality.
Tutanuak was glad to see youth come out to the gatherings and have their voices heard. Though he’s not a youth anymore, the Kivalliq musician said he could relate to the need for programming in the territory for young men.
“Men do need time to talk to another male counterpart and be able to express their feelings and all the different emotions we go through every day,” he said. “To be able to have a father figure for the ones that have lost or don’t have father figures in their homes, it’s needed.”
Tutanuak lost his father in his teens.
“I feel as if I lost a lot of my culture, my traditional survival skills and traditional tool-making, because I didn’t have that father figure,” he said. “I had older siblings, but they were busy with their own families.”
He is also a recovering addict, which adds to his inspiration to assist his colleagues, friends and community members in finding a better life and not falling into the same trap he did.
“There was this individual (at the gatherings) that said it would be good to have these programs run on the weekends so we can stay off of the substances,” said Tutanuak. “How profound is that?”
The group is looking to continue its community tours in February and March, dependent on travel restrictions.
Tutanuak suggested young men keep an eye on Pulaarvik’s Facebook page for job opportunities as coordinators for some of these future programs.