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Sexual health workshops for Iqaluit teens use storytelling, mask dancing

Health researchers and performing artists in Iqaluit are creating a space for high school kids to talk about safe sex and their feelings about sex.

'We were comfortable speaking about what was in our head,' says Grade 10 student

Iqaluit artist Laakuluk Williamson Bathory uses storytelling and performance art, such as Greenlandic mask dancing, to engage with youth about making safe choices. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

Health researchers and performing artists in Iqaluit are creating a space for high school kids to talk about safe sex and their feelings about sex.

All week Grade 9 and 10 students at Inuksuk High School have been attending sexual health workshops put on by the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre in partnership with Qaggiavuut Nunavut Performing Arts.

"They made us feel relaxed and made sure we felt comfortable talking about what we are doing," said Taylor Kusugak, a Grade 10 student at the school.

"We were comfortable speaking about what was in our head, and that was very different for me."

This is the second time Qaujigiartiit has facilitated this kind of workshop and another is planned in Qikiqtarjuaq in November. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

The workshops used storytelling and performance art, such as Greenlandic mask dancing, to engage with youth about making safe choices.

"We know the arts, storytelling, the visual arts and performance arts are one of our strengths," said Gwen Healey, executive director of Qaujigiartiit.

"We have so many talented people in our community and that is a powerful way to convey messages about relationships, wellness, how we are feeling and our emotions." 

This is the second time Qaujigiartiit has facilitated this kind of workshop, but it won't be the last.

"In November we are going to Qikiqtarjuaq and we are going to be running the workshop there and possibly in Arviat later, in the beginning of 2017."

The funding that made this year's workshops possible will also be in place next year, Healey said, making the programming available to more Nunavut youth.

Grade 9 and 10 students at Inuksuk High School have been attending sexual health workshops this week. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

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