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Culture, language and history – the self-determination of Inuit – all play a role in our overall mental health. (Submitted by Pascale Arpin) When people die by suicide, they leave a less rich world for all of us who are living in it.

When I think of my friends and loved ones who have died, I know first and foremost that the world is not as bright a place as it could have been with them in it. They are people with whom I would have shared success and failure, people who would have challenged me to understand the world in a more complete way and people who would have enriched my life with love and kindness.

It makes me incredibly sad to think of this, but gives me resolve in the Inuit community’s work to prevent suicide. Effects of colonization

Inuit society is built just as much on the ice and on the ocean as it is on the land, and this has impacted everything in our lives since time immemorial. Although colonizing forces happened at different times in Inuit Nunangat, it was around the end of the Second World War as part of Canada’s claim on Arctic sovereignty that many communities were established through government relocation, force or coercion.

Often, Inuit were threatened with being cut off from basic social services if they didn’t move into communities or didn’t send their children to residential schools. That legacy has produced communities still struggling to overcome the colonial past, with inadequate infrastructure and housing to support our growing population. Rates of death by suicide among Inuit increased sharply in the 1970s following imposed changes to our way of life.

To understand suicide among Inuit, you need to understand historical trauma. Parents didn’t usually talk about the suffering they endured in the 1950s and […]

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