Educators from around Nunavut are calling for more suicide prevention training, as only 40 per cent of principals, teachers and other school staff members have taken ASIST training since 2009.
The principal in Kugaaruk, Michael Bartley, said ASIST, or Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, should be offered in all of the territory’s schools.
His entire staff took what he calls the ‘very intense’ training together last year following a series of tragedies in the community. Bartley wants the program offered to more people.
"All of Nunavut — there's a lot of pain and a lot of pain from that past that needs healing, and I think courses like this, if we could offer this to the general public and all schools, then I think it can really help us all as a territory," he said.
Only four communities have provided ASIST workshops to all of their teaching staff. Bartley said his school plans to offer the training to high school students next year. They also wanted to offer ASIST to community members, but plans fell through when a trainer was weathered out.
Anne Crawford, a member of the Apex District Education Authority, said her group also wants to see the training offered to all teachers in Nunavut.
"Our DEA proposed, and the Coalition of DEAS asked, that all teachers be given an opportunity to participate in the training. That hasn't happened yet. We'd really like to see it happen," Crawford said. "It makes me feel better knowing that our teachers have had that opportunity. And they chose to take it."
The Nunavut government began offering the training in both languages almost three years ago.
A spokesperson for the Nunavut government said there are no ASIST courses scheduled at this time, but added they are working on it.