Nfld. & Labrador

Creating a legacy in the sky: Air Labrador honours mental health advocate

Air Labrador is breaking the silence on mental illness and honouring a beloved member of the Nunatsiavut community.

Dorothy Angnatok remembered with new campaign

Dorothy Angnatok inspired many to “create a good day,” through her work with at risk youth in northern Labrador. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Air Labrador is trying to raise awareness of mental illness and honour a beloved member of the Nunatsiavut community.

Along with a new social media awareness campaign, they've painted "create a good day" on the latest addition to their fleet, a Twin Otter Aircraft.

"There was a suicide of a young lady in Nunatsiavut a few months ago, and that person was very influential to just about everyone," Air Labrador CEO Philip Earle told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.

"She coined that phrase, 'create a good day', and we wanted to honour her by doing this," Earle said.

"It's hard not to be emotional. You know, suicide is a huge issue in the North and it's certainly a huge issue in our population in Nunatsiavut. Suicide prevention is very, very important. I think everybody wants to be part of the prevention. Duru did a lot in her life and we sort of wanted to do this right now for her."

Dorothy Angnatok, affectionately known as Duru, inspired many to "create a good day," through her work with at risk youth. 

Air Labrador CEO Philip Earle wants to bring awareness to mental health with his new campaign #createagoodday (Jacob Barker/CBC)

She was a leading member of Going off, Growing strong, an outreach program focused on youth mental health. 

"You know, I think she was such a bright and shining star among Nunatsiavut beneficiaries," he said.

"And she was so full of life. And a lot of people looked up to her. And when the tragedy happened, I think it touched everybody. And we just wanted to find a way to recognize her contribution."

Earle said this initiative can also serve as a reminder for those who may be fearful of flying — they'll see this motto as they enter and exit the plane.

It's also a way to open up the conversation surrounding suicide.

"Because it's a very deep subject to talk about, and because it affects so many...whether it's along family lines, whether it's along work lines, it touches so many people. But I believe that we have to talk about it," he said.

 Earle is encouraging people to talk about the issue with social media. They're using the hashtag #createagoodday to share the message and get people involved.

The response has been very positive, with Air Labrador telling CBC Radio they've received more than 16,000 views on their hashtag and feedback from more than 300 people.

Whatever the medium — whether through social media or written on an airplane — the message is the same.

"We all have stresses, we all have pressures, we all have adversity," Earle said.

"Even if you're having a bad day, there's some good in it. So that's what create a good day means to me. And it's incumbent on all of us to make our own, create our own great day."

With files from Jacob Barker and Labrador Morning