Pangnirtung pleads with Nunavut gov't, RCMP to step in amid suicide, violence 'crisis'

Representatives from the Nunavut government and RCMP will attend Pangnirtung's next council meeting in response to a letter from council requesting immediate assistance.

RCMP and government officials will attend hamlet's next council meeting

The mayor and council in Pangnirtung say they need 'urgent financial support' for an emergency shelter and more mental health and addictions services after an increase in violence and suicide attempts. (Submitted by David Kilabuk)

After issuing a plea for "urgent financial support" amid a crisis involving increasing rates of violence and suicide, representatives from the Nunavut government and RCMP will attend Pangnirtung's next council meeting.

The situation has been described as a "crisis," with a nearly 50 per cent increase in calls to RCMP between 2015 and 2017, according to RCMP statistics gathered by hamlet officials.

"Things recently have become more desperate," said council member Marcus Wilcke. "All our existing services there are stretched to the limit."

In February alone, there were 12 suicide attempts among the community's young people, says Wilcke. The population of Pangnirtung is about 1,400.

There was also an increase in calls to poison control in February and March, which the letter says reflects a "large number of suicide attempts."

Emergency shelter needed

Last month, the mayor and council sent a four-page letter to the ministers of family services and homelessness, suicide prevention, justice and the housing corporation asking for funding to support an emergency shelter.

The letter says violent events in Pangnirtung are now happening every day.

The council is also seeking funding for victim support, mental health and addictions services, as well as crisis counselling.

"This will be an initial step to help us deal with the crisis. In the long term we will really need to look at getting a healing facility in the community, getting ongoing support service in the community, of course address housing issues and many others," said Wilcke.

The hamlet's senior administrative officer says the government confirmed Monday it will send representatives from the departments of Health and Family Services who will attend a council meeting in two weeks. A representative from the RCMP will also be present.