Alcohol treatment limited in Nunavut, Canada

Nunavut's top judge, Robert Kilpatrick, said about 90 per cent of crime in the territory can be directly linked to alcohol. (CBC)
Nunavut’s top judge, Robert Kilpatrick, said about 90 per cent of crime in the territory can be directly linked to alcohol. (CBC)

Those who struggle with addictions in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut say there are few places to turn for help.

There is no treatment centre and few resources available for those who return home after going for treatment down South.

Saila Kipanek laments the lack of help. The Iqaluit man has struggled with addiction in the past.

His childhood memories include being cold and shivering while waiting outside past midnight for his parents to come home from an evening of heavy drinking at an Iqaluit pub. Years of frustration turned to anger, and lead to Kipanek’s own alcohol abuse and violence. That struggle went on for 33 years.

Then one day, his young daughter asked him the question which changed it all.

“She asked me ‘Daddy, if you loved me, why do you have liquor in the house?’”

Kipanek sought help at the addictions center which once existed in Apex near Iqaluit. It angers him that it no longer exists in the territory’s biggest community

“There’s nothing open here like that for this community. Period.”

Southern treatment not always culturally-sensitive

Nunavut’s Chief Justice Robert Kilpatrick estimates about 90 per cent of crime in the territory is connected in some way to alcohol abuse.

He and other judges send people out of the territory for treatment, but he said that can be costly.

Kilpatrick adds that it’s not always culturally sensitive, and it doesn’t treat the whole family.

“It’s not cost-effective to rely solely upon jails when we need really some interventions at a family level, at a community level to address a growing problem of substance abuse in Nunavut,” he said.

Kilpatrick said there is a lot of underlying anger which fuels addictions.

He said alcohol abuse is having an impact throughout Nunavut – in the schools, on the health care system and for corrections.

Kilpatrick said it’s a huge burden on the government. He said if it isn’t dealt with, the problems will continue for generations.

CBC News

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