On an emotional day when people in his hometown were attending a funeral for a young man who took his own life, Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk rose in the legislative assembly to address the issue of suicide.

“Our elders are out there to help,” Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk advises young Nunavummiut who are feeling troubled.
photo courtesy of the Government of Nunavut

“Although I am hurting deeply as I say these words… We only live once as humans in this world… We all have a soul; everyone has a heart and minds… You can be helped,” Kaernerk said Monday. “In this day and age, young people have the capacity to explore the world online and we can even call a helpline… I am very strongly encouraging the entire crop of youth throughout Nunavut, you can still get help and your future is very large!”

“Please, young people, I am really trying to advise you properly as suicide should not be an option at all. Even as I speak, there are young people in trouble wondering who to turn to and they get stuck there,” said Kaernerk.  “Our elders are out there to help.”

The Amittuq MLA later asked Premier Joe Savikataaq whether the GN can strengthen the relationship between elders and youth, especially for youth going through stressful periods.

Savikataaq pointed out that pretty well every school in the territory has elders on staff. He said he would look into the possibility of a GN position for an elder who’s designated to give life-skills advice, which Kaernerk suggested.

“I am from Arviat, and I constantly hear our elders advising the younger generations over
the local radio how to ensure you live a better life, so locally the elders are interested in
doing the work, and we know many elders would like to help their younger generations,” Savikataaq said. “When elders advise the youth, the youth should listen and that way they could learn those lessons.”


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  1. Savikataaq said. “When elders advise the youth, the youth should listen and that way they could learn those lessons.” Now that’s a real gov’t talk. youth should listen……. need to start showing youth

  2. Depression is directly correlated to level of poverty. Poverty is directly correlated with lack of shelter.
    Suicide is obviously no-ones first choice. What a society we must be then when our citizens see so little hope that they still choose it. Give our youth a reasonable chance at a future with security and then you’ll see change.

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