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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
Home > Press centre > Press releases > 2016 > May 4, 2016

Minister Geoffrey Kelley visits Nunavik to ensure needs are being met

Kuujjuaq, May 4, 2016. – The Minister responsible for Native Affairs, Geoffrey Kelley, completed yesterday a visit to Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, where he travelled to meet with the local and regional authorities in order to ensure that the support being provided to them, in the wake of the wave of suicides that has afflicted the region in the past few months, fulfills their needs.

“Certain Inuit communities are currently living through difficult times. The local and regional authorities have clearly expressed to me their desire to take charge of the situation, in a way that respects their customs and traditions, and I intend to honour their wish.  I am here to meet with the front-line workers and the community leadership to reiterate that they have the support of the Government of Quebec during these challenging times,” said Minister Kelley.

Several meetings were on the agenda for the visit. The Minister met, in particular, with the representatives of the Kativik Regional Administration, the Makivik Corporation, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS), the municipality of Kuujjuaq and the Pivallianiq social housing program, as well as with certain youth leaders. “I am very impressed by the mobilization of the entire community to deal with the situation. It has served as a good example of solidarity and courage, and I sincerely hope that its efforts will bear fruit”, continued the Minister.

Together with the NRBHSS, the Ministry of Health and Social Services has taken the lead within the Government of Quebec to assist the communities shaken by this difficult situation. The NRBHSS is autonomously organizing the development of culturally relevant grief support services, as well as their deployment over this vast territory.  As part of the collaborative process that has been initiated by the NRBHSS and the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services has hired various professional resources (a social worker, a specialist in bereavement counselling, a psycho-educator, two psychologists and a clinical counsellor specializing in crisis management) to provide assistance to the population and support local stakeholders. In addition, an assistance program has been set up for the staff (including front-line workers) who have been affected by this tragic situation. A Facebook page, Reach Out Nunavik, was also created in order to broadcast messages of hope from influential people (in Nunavik or from elsewhere) and to provide information about available assistance.

Overseen by the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones, the ministries and agencies of the Government of Quebec which are involved in dealing with the current situation are working in close collaboration to ensure that Nunavik will have the necessary intervention resources available to counsel its inhabitants who are bereaved or in crisis, and to implement concrete short-term or medium-term measures.

In the coming weeks, a support network will be established for the members of the existing multidisciplinary team, in order to ensure continuity for the Inuit stakeholders in the medium to long term, to coordinate the work of the teams who are working in Kuujjuaq, and to identify the specific needs of those who live and work in the communities of Salluit and Kangiqsujuaq.

“There is no one solution to the tragedy experienced here. However, I have observed that the stakeholders in the community are setting the groundwork for many promising solutions that will enable us to foster hope within the communities, making young people a priority, since they account for nearly half of the population. They have their lives ahead of them; we must bring the cycle of suffering to an end. We must see to it that they find joie de vivre and dreams they can believe in, here in Nunavik. Finally, I wish to take the opportunity to recognize the exceptional devotion of the intervention teams in the field, as well as the extraordinary way in which the community has reacted to this crisis”, concluded Minister Kelley.

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