Nunavut’s Isaksimagit Inuusirmi Katujjiqaatigiit Embrace Life Council (IIKELC) has received a 2023 Champions of Mental Health from the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH).

Each year, the award is granted to seven Canadian individuals or organizations who help “advance the mental health agenda across the country,” according to the CAMIMH website.

IIKELC, which specializes in suicide prevention, is the 2023 winner for the Community Organization category.

“It just emphasizes the fact that we are doing our best to meet the needs of Nunavummiut, especially in terms of mental health, addictions, and suicide prevention,” said Sheila Levy, vice president of the Embrace Life Council board. “We’re really trying to make sure we have programs and supports that address the high rates of suicide among Nunavummiut.”

“What’s really lovely is that we’re now nationally recognized,” she added. “Not that’s what we were looking for, but it’s nice to be nationally recognized.”

IIKELC, which has offices in Iqaluit, Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet, offers a range of mental health-related programs across the territory, including workshops on the prevention of suicide, self-injury, and sexual abuse.

Levy, who has been with IIKELC since it was created, encourages any Nunavummiut who are struggling with mental health challenges to look into the organization’s programming, and in urgent cases, call its 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 1-800-265-3333.

“They should try to get help, try to find support,” Levy said.

“They can always call the helpline,” she added. “They can also check out the programs that the Embrace Life Council does in their communities. And if they want a specific program, they can phone us and see what can be brought to their community, because the Embrace Life Council sends out people to different communities to put on programs that are really important, that help people help themselves, and help people become active in helping their communities.”

If you or someone you know needs mental health support, Kamatsiaqtut Nunavut Helpline is available 24 hours, 7 days a week at 1-800-265-3333. The NWT Help Line is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is 100% free, confidential and anonymous. Call 1-800-661-0844.

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