What keeps David Kalluk, deputy mayor of the Baker Lake Youth Council, level-headed is dance, self-care and volleyball.

“People really don’t talk about mental health,” said the 13-year-old, whose council and youth coordinator Rachel Tagoona-Tapatai organized a week of activities such as painting, journaling and more, all to be capped off with a Saturday night bonfire and teen dance.

Kalluk thinks talking about mental health challenges would help those going through them feel less judged.

What works for him is dance, self-care and sports like volleyball. He thinks youth need more outlets, and so does Tagoona-Tapatai.

“Especially with my work, I see a lot of youth that are struggling and they have no outlets, no resources, nothing, and they don’t know what to do,” said Tagoona-Tapatai as inspiration for the activity week.

She’s not sure if that feeling is because she wasn’t aware of the people around her when she was younger, but she does feel a palpable change.

“This generation, I’m really seeing a huge difference in the youth and their mental state and the problems they’re going through,” she said.

“I feel like this generation is really struggling and I don’t know why, so I was doing this to find out why and see how I can help.”

A handful of people showed up the first night, but by Wednesday, the evening activity sessions were seeing up to 20 participants. In one session, youth learned the importance of the semicolon, while in others, they expressed emotions through art.

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