Inuk artist pleads for 'state of emergency' to deal with suicides
'We've never seen so much death': Inuk artist Beatrice Deer
Beatrice Deer knows what it's like to feel depressed. She knows the pain of trauma.
It's part of the reason she moved to Montreal almost nine years ago: she wanted to get the help that didn't exist in her home town of Quaqtaq.
"I've experienced a lot of traumatic things in my life that caused a lot of problems and I tried to get help for them. And it was difficult to get therapy, because there weren't any therapists," she said.
The 33-year-old is a singer, a mother, and she also works for the Avataq Cultural Institute which helps preserve and promote Inuit culture.
Five years ago, she stopped drinking.
Deer credits therapy for helping her 'untie the knots' in her life to make it through.
She wants Nunavik leaders to declare a state of emergency now, in order to get urgent mental health help for young people in pain today.
I don't think talking about it is going to make it any worse, we need to talk about it.- Beatrice Deer
She says she's aware her call for a state of emergency will shine the spotlight on Inuit communities and the higher-than-average suicide rates.
"I don't think talking about it is going to make it any worse, we need to talk about it," she said.
She posted that plea earlier this week on her Facebook and Instagram accounts.
"I felt I needed to sound the alarm," said Deer. After hearing about the tenth suicide of 2016, she talked to family and friends in many communities.
Deer says people in Nunavik need to feel reassured their leaders are taking action.
No one from the Nunavik Health Board of Health and Social Services was available for an interview.
During an interview with CBC in March, executive director Minnie Grey said the board has implemented most aspects of the suicide prevention strategy put forth by a special committee in 2012.
Mayor of Kangiqsujuaq supports call for declaration of state of emergency
"This is urgent," said Kangiqsujuaq mayor Charlie Arngak.
"I think we have to look into this seriously."
Arngak said there have to be more drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres. There are two now.
"They have one in Kuujjuaq, but at the same time they have a bar and the Coop sells beer."
Arngak said he's been lobbying Makivik Corporation, the organization which supervises most of the benefits of the James Bay and Northern Agreement.
None of the elected leaders in Nunavik was available or wanted to do an interview.