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Kugluktuk embraces life

The people of the North know all too well the pain, hurt, anger and other emotions that come when a loved one is lost to suicide. Canada's North has the highest rate of suicide of the entire country.

Fiona Avaligak, left, Jazlyn Klengenberg, Kobi Bolt, Lacey Adamacke and Natalya Ongahak proudly display this beautifully made sign. Rita Pigalak/NNSL photo

Suicide was never an issue among aboriginal peoples in the old days – modern times have changed our people, they now face many challenges that our people and culture never faced before, including alcohol, drugs and unemployment.

"Enough is Enough" was the message to our people to end suicide. Rita Pigalak/NNSL photo
Phillip Evaglok of Kugluktuk displays his stones that have names of lost loved ones written on them. "I have seven names on my rocks, that's too many," said Evaglok. Rita Pigalak/NNSL photo

Nunavummiut are a resilient people, it has been proven over the years that the Inuit culture can and will overcome the many challenges that our people face in this time.

September is suicide prevention month, and Embrace Life walks were held where community members stood together to show support for each other and those suffering.

“Enough is enough” is the message the community of Kugluktuk was sending out.

Organized by the Mental Health Department, a crowd of about 50 walked through town led by two fire trucks. The walk ended at the recreation complex with coffee, tea and snacks that were prepared by the Department of Recreation.

The theme of the following evening “Moving Forward” was planned to be capped by sending off paper lanterns, but when the lanterns did not arrive in time a stone-throwing, where names of lost loved ones were written on stones, was done in place of the lantern send-offs. A prayer was said by by Elder Jayko Palingayak before people cast their stones into the river to let go in the spirit of moving forward.

Once the lanterns arrive a date and time will be posted time will be posted on the Kugluktuk News Facebook page.

Kadriean Ongahak and Rai Allukpik hold up the Embrace Life banner, seated from left in the back row are Peter Ilgok and Chaz Kudlak, middle row, Martina Appatok and Emma Aviogana and front row, Laticia Kadlun, Alice Milukshuk, Lance Ahegona and Clarence Kellogok. Rita Pigalak/NNSL photo