Youth workshop in Arctic Canadian community to focus on safe partying

Alyssa Carpenter, outreach manager for BYTE, said the workshop is meant to foster dialogue. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)
A Yukon organization is headed to Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories (central Arctic), on Tuesday to put on a workshop for young people that includes a full day on safe partying.

BYTE-Empowering Youth’s two-day workshop called “MOVE! Youth Ending Violence” offers young people ways to address various issues in their community.

“It’s going to very beneficial to our young adults that are in the community, as the community has been having a problem with alcohol for a bit now,” said Derek Squirrel, recreation co-ordinator for the hamlet of Ulukhaktok.

“It’s going to be nice to bring the youth in to focus on the issues of alcohol, and marijuana, now that it is legal.”

Susan Kaodloak, the hamlet’s assistant senior administrative officer, said there was a public meeting in January to discuss what the community could do to help address its alcohol-related problems.

She said the community has asked the Northwest Territories government for a liquor plebiscite, in which residents could vote to restrict people from bringing in more than 1.7 litres of spirits.

The BYTE workshop will take place at the Ulukhaktok Youth Centre. (Submitted by Derek Squirrel)

Alyssa Carpenter is the outreach manager for BYTE.

She said the workshop is meant to foster dialogue.

It was hard as a young person to ask questions at times.

Alyssa Carpenter, Outreach manager for BYTE

“They have every right to have an open conversation, to ask these questions about substances, and we’d rather them hear it from someone they can relate to.”

Carpenter said the workshop is one of the organization’s most popular ones.

Harm reduction

Raised in Sachs Harbour and Inuvik, in the N.W.T., Carpenter said growing up, the only time partying was formally addressed was in the D.A.R.E. program in Grade 5.

Derek Squirrel, recreation co-ordinator for the hamlet of Ulukhaktok, said the workshop addressing issues related to alcohol and marijuana will be beneficial to young people in the community. (Submitted by Derek Squirrel)

She said she would have benefited from a workshop that took a “harm reduction approach” when she was in her teens.

A harm reduction approach to substance use aims to reduce the harms associated with alcohol and drugs without forcing people to stop using them, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

“It was hard as a young person to ask questions at times,” said Carpenter. “It really would’ve helped to have open conversations … to understand the effects beyond alcohol and tobacco.”

Squirrel expects BYTE’s workshop at the Ulukhaktok youth centre will have a positive effect on the community’s teenagers.

“I’m looking forward to hopefully youth expressing themselves and not being shy of coming forward with any problems that they have,” said Squirrel.

The workshop on safe partying is designed for people ages 15 to 18, though Carpenter said anyone can participate.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Study gives Canada’s northern territories failing grades on curbing alcohol harms, CBC News

Finland: Finland’s alcohol consumption declines by 15%, Yle News

United States: Envisioning recovery and rebuilding a life in the Alaskan Arctic, Alaska Public Media

Mackenzie Scott, CBC News

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