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Protesters take to the streets in Rankin Inlet for improved mental-health services

Horns blared in support of those out protesting the lack of mental-health services available in their community at the main four-way stop in downtown Rankin Inlet this past Friday, June 26.

Tiana Gordon, from left, joins fellow protesters Pamela Pilakapsi, Sakitnaak Brown, Amanda Tugak, Martha Palluq and Lucy Maynard displaying their signs of protest for the state of mental-health nservices available in Rankin Inlet as part of a territory-wide protest on Friday, June 26.
Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

Tiana Gordon of Rankin Inlet started the ball rolling when she held a suicide-awareness demonstration in Rankin on June 19.

Her Rankin demonstration inspired Alanna Copland and Jo Ellen Pameolik – both from Arviat and now living in Iqaluit – to organize the Nunavut-wide peaceful protest last Friday.

Gordon, 23, said she hopes the Nunavut-wide protest will finally get the attention of the Government of Nunavut and inspire its politicians, many of whom will seek re-election, to take immediate action to increase mental-health services available in the territory.

She said people continue to fall victim to suicide in every community, and she has no doubt that time is probably running out for others who are struggling with mental-health issues and can't get the help they need.

“It's ridiculous when someone who is struggling has a mental-health crisis and they're told to come back or wait until the next day,” said Gordon.

“People who are having a crisis late at night are reaching out for immediate help and it's just not there.

“The next day could be a day too late for some of these people. It already has been for too many in our communities.”

Gordon said while Rankin does have some mental-health services, it needs a building in the community dedicated to mental health with more workers making more services available.

She said every community in Nunavut should have proper mental-health services available, and she hopes the territory-wide protest attracts not only the GN's attention, but that of the Government of Canada, as well.

“I just had to do something after the recent suicides in our region,” said Gordon.

“Suicide has been affecting everyone in our communities and we have to start doing more to prevent it. We can't just give up.

“All this money has been spent on this pandemic and, having the highest suicide rate in Canada, it's time they (the GN) dedicate the same attention and financial resources to our lack of mental-health services.

“Somehow we grew up and normalized suicide in our communities, almost like an accepted way of life here, and that has to stop and it has to stop now.”