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Ilitaqsiniq project aiming high at 11th annual Arctic Inspiration Prize

Ilitaqsiniq’s (Nunavut Literacy Council) Pilimmaksaijuliriniq Project is one of two finalists in the $1-million category of the 2022 Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP).
Aliisa Autut, left, and Kelly Lindell co-facilitate a recent Ilitaqsiniq workshop that teaches Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit as a foundation for life. Photo courtesy of Ilitaqsiniq ᐊᓖᓴ ᐊᐅᑐᑦ, ᓴᐅᒥᖕᒥ, ᐊᒻᒪ ᑲᓕ ᓕᓐᑎᐅᓪ ᐊᐅᓚᑦᑎᖃᑎᒌᒃᐳᑦ ᒫᓐᓇᓕᓴᐅᔪᒥ ᐃᓕᑕᖅᓯᓂᖅ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕐᓂᐅᔪᒥ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᖅᑎᑦᑎᔪᒥ ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᑐᖃᖏᓐᓂ ᑐᙵᕕᐅᓪᓗᓂ ᐃᓅᓯᕐᒧᑦ.

Ilitaqsiniq’s (Nunavut Literacy Council) Pilimmaksaijuliriniq Project is one of two finalists in the $1-million category of the 2022 Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP).

The winners will be announced during the AIP’s 11th annual awards ceremony in Ottawa on Feb. 8 alongside the Northern Lights Business and Cultural Showcase.

The Pilimmaksaijuliriniq Project is an Inuit-designed, Inuit-led initiative developed in response to the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy, the Inuusivut Anninaqtuq Nunavut Suicide Prevention Strategy and the Alianait Inuit Mental Wellness Action Plan.

Executive director Adriana Kusugak said Ilitaqsiniq will build additional mental health competencies and Inuit wellness traditional teachings into non-formal community-based programs designed to support community members who deliver community-based programming across Inuit Nunangat to protect and build their resilience.

She said Ilitaqsiniq will expand upon its 2022 pilot framework (Developing Community Leaders in Non-Formal Programming), which is a train-the-trainer program, where Ilitaqsiniq provides participants with a holistic, integrated approach founded on Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) – Inuit social principles to support program development with a trauma-informed approach embedding the inclusion of literacy and language skills that are central to non-formal cultural programming.

“If successful, we will begin our work in April 2023,” said Kusugak. “We will work with Inuit Elders, knowledge keepers and mental-health professionals during the first 18 months to research, identify and embed mental-health competencies and Inuit wellness traditional teachings into our program framework.

“This will significantly increase the capabilities of our Ilitaqsiniq staff — who work daily in service to empower Inuit — and enable us to build mental-wellness capabilities rooted in IQ with community-based program deliverers across the four Inuit Nunangat regions.

“In the following 18 months, we will pilot our work through six community-based workshops, sharing supporting resources developed and ongoing support of those who attend this training.”

Kusugak said the project will take place and create positive impacts in the three regions of Nunavut (Qikiqtaaluk, Kivalliq and Kitikmeot) and the other three regions of Inuit Nunangat (Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut).

She said Ilitaqsiniq wants to ensure the content it’s creating will effectively protect and build resilience in those who serve its communities to ensure that they can continue to help.

“We are investing in front-line programming staff who are currently in community, both with Ilitaqsiniq and numerous other organizations, to help them remain in community and continuing to support all people and communities across Inuit Nunangat.

“We currently have a workshop that teaches IQ as a foundation for life, discussing the values, beliefs, practices, perspectives, history and the impacts of the traumatic impacts of colonialism.

“The workshop also involves sharing the approach and holistic model Ilitaqsiniq has designed to develop and deliver community-based programs.

“We will now add a new element to the workshop by first researching and gathering traditional knowledge and practices on Inuit mental-health-and-wellness practices directly from Elders.”

Kusugak said Ilitaqsiniq will also gather research and information from psychologists and therapists that incorporate brain science information to mental-health-and-wellness practices.

She said the two will be brought together to add to Ilitaqsiniq’s workshop, so the Pilimmaksaijuliriniq Project will teach and support community members who deliver community programs in the foundational elements of IQ, Ilitaqsiniq-style programs and mental-health-and-wellness practices based on traditional knowledge and current modern practices.

“This will ensure we are able to offer these programs to support participants, but, also, to help our front-line service providers and programmers to persevere and have wellness practices for themselves to continue carrying out this meaningful work.”