For Helen Iguptaq, a key to maintaining her mental health is not responding to hate with more hate.

“Teenagers today, they tend to fight back, talk back,” said Iguptaq, who was telling stories to youth last week as part of an initiative hosted by Live for Life and Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre in Rankin Inlet. “They need more advice from Elders about moral values.”

She tells young people to be good to each other and ignore people bringing negativity.

“That’s how we were taught – not to talk back or hit back, even if somebody hit us or verbally abused us.”

If you respond to hate with more hate, “that’s when you’re going to be the loser,” said Iguptaq.

For Louie Innukshuk, another Elder telling stories, he said it’s important to respect the Elders.

The program ran all week in the evenings, with about a dozen youth attending the session Friday, Oct. 6. After some country food, youth ages 10 and above joined Elders on the couches of Rankin Inlet’s drop-in centre to hear their wisdom and ask questions.

“I think the Elders really enjoy telling their stories and how they lived in their childhood,” said Nicole Ymana, president of Live for Life, an organization that began before Covid with the goal of spreading mental health awareness in Rankin Inlet and beyond.

“We wanted to help the community out by bringing people together and celebrating life,” said Ymana about the group, which paused operations during the pandemic but is up and running again.

For Ymana, hunting is her key to mental clarity.

“That’s what I do when I feel like crap,” she said. “I go on the land and just go hunting. To me it feels like you connect to the nature. It’s so peaceful there, no traffic, you see one hunter or two here and there. For me, that’s therapy.”

She thanked Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre for help in making the Elder-youth storytelling a success, and she hopes to continue running regular events again with Live for Life.

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