The Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre is planning to expand its men’s healing program to every community in the region, beginning with a workshop in Clyde River last week.

With the help of the territorial government, the friendship centre is hosting a five-day training session to create a new program created by Inuit men for Inuit men.

“It’s kind of a powwow, I guess, with different role models to find out the best way to reach men in the communities,” said Charlene Williams-Kaludjak, executive director of Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre.

Williams-Kaludjak said the friendship centre has been planning on growing its men’s healing program for some time.

“We have some male counsellors here at Pulaarvik who believed that starting up men’s groups in each of the communities is important,” she said.

The new program’s aim will be to help build a culture of healing among Inuit men by talking and working together, according to a press release from the Department of Health. Starting this fall, each community will offer one or two activities per month as well as two major land excursions per year.

“These activities will involve men working together to offer service to community members (shovelling snow, delivering lake ice to Elders), healing discussions around issues like dealing with grief or anger management, and traditional skills activities,” reads the news release.

According to Williams-Kaludjak, the lack of male councillors is preventing more men from accessing counselling. The friendship centre currently only has two male councillors, both of whom are based in Rankin Inlet.

“We know that the reason there is a gap in services is because there aren’t that many male councillors that men in the communities are comfortable with,” she said. “We want people to be comfortable because we already knows how hard it can be to reach out for help.”

Alan Qiyuaryuk, who recently started an Alcoholic’s Anonymous group in Baker Lake, is one of the people chosen to attend the workshop. Qiyuaryuk said that he’s both nervous and excited about the new opportunity.

“I can’t wait to learn new things and meet new people,” he said.

Williams-Kaludjak said Qiyuaryuk is the kind of candidate that the centre is looking for.

“The work he is doing is very valuable, and it takes someone like him to make a program like this work,” she said.

While the friendship centre invited people from every community to the workshop, only four of the locales will be represented.

After the Clyde River workshop is completed, Williams-Kaludjak said the friendship centre will start hiring part-time male counsellors to run the men’s program in each community, regardless of whether representatives were able to attend.

“We’re hoping that if this is successful, we’ll be able to do more in the future,” she said.

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