More than 100 people, including in excess of 30 youth, participated in a three-day United for Life gathering for a suicide prevention conference in Baker Lake last week.
Organized by the Nunavut Suicide Prevention Strategy partners, the conference also included elders, community wellness leaders, Inuit organizations, businesses representatives, treatment organizations and survivors, according to a news release issued by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
“Participants worked to strengthen networks, heal and learn from each other, and empower community-led action,” the news release stated. “United for Life gatherings are a direct result of jury recommendation from the coroner’s inquest into suicide in September 2015 that called for increased engagement of stakeholders. These gatherings provide partners and stakeholders with the opportunity to further engage and understand inter-generational experiences that support and empower community-based suicide prevention projects.”
A series of activities and workshops were offered to youth in the days prior to the conference.
On the last day of the conference, Nunavut Suicide Prevention Strategy partners took part in a ceremonial signing to show their support for an Iqaluit-based child advocacy centre – to be known as the Umingmak Child and Youth Support Centre – which has been in the works since 2014.
“I was extremely happy to see our youth involved and engaged throughout this summit. Recognizing and involving youth in our decision-making processes is about more than engaging young people for the sake of inclusivity. It’s about meaningful involvement, control and ensuring they are connected to all the work we are doing to embrace life. I encourage youth to continue staying involved in our efforts as they make a positive difference,” said David Lawson, president of the Embrace Life Council.