Researcher wants audit of anti-suicide strategy in Nunavut, Canada

Jack Hicks, a social researcher in Nunavut, said MLAs have not asked for a progress report on the territory's suicide prevention strategy during the most recent legislative sitting. The strategy was introduced in 2010. (CBC)
Jack Hicks, a social researcher in Nunavut, said MLAs have not asked for a progress report on the territory’s suicide prevention strategy during the most recent legislative sitting. The strategy was introduced in 2010. (CBC)

A social researcher in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut is calling for a performance audit of the territory’s suicide prevention strategy.

Jack Hicks says the territory is in the midst of a suicide crisis, but added there was almost no mention of suicide during the recent sitting of the legislative assembly.

He said there were also no questions about the government’s suicide prevention strategy.

“[It was] very brave for the MLAs (Members of Nunavut’s Legislative Assembly) to vote for a federal audit of the federal program, Nutrition North,” he said. “What about a performance audit of the [Nunavut government’s] implementation of the Suicide Prevention Strategy?”

Hicks said the strategy’s action plan expires on March 31, 2014.

He said territorial politicians have not asked for a progress report on the plan’s 42 commitments.

Hicks also said Nunavut Arctic College recently announced it will hold workshops on Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) for school staff, but that there is no updated ASIST information on the government website for other people in the communities.

He also added that Health Canada provided funding in 2012 to Nunavut’s Department of Health and Social Services for a “train the trainer” ASIST program, to be held in Pangnirtung.

Hicks said students who took the program were required to take another three ASIST workshops within a year, under the supervision of a senior trainer. Only then could they become a registered ASIST trainer.

However, the health department did not organize workshops for the graduates to become trainers. In the end, only one person was successful in getting that designation. Hicks said the poor planning led to it being a waste of money.

Hicks added that he does not understand, what he called, the lack of leadership on the issue.

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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