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Premier Peter Taptuna declares suicide a crisis in Nunavut

In the legislative assembly Thursday afternoon, Nunavut’s premier declared suicide a crisis in the territory. Former premier Paul Okalik will be the minister responsible for suicide prevention.

Former premier Paul Okalik will be the minister responsible for suicide prevention

In the legislative assembly Thursday, Nunavut’s premier, Peter Taptuna, declared suicide a crisis in the territory. Paul Okalik will be the minister responsible for suicide prevention.

Nunavut's premier has declared suicide a crisis in the territory.

Peter Taptuna made the remarks in the Legislative Assembly Thursday.

The declaration follows a coroner's inquest into suicide that wrapped last month. Among their recommendations, the jury urged the territorial government to declare suicide a public health emergency.

The jury also called for the creation of a cabinet position responsible for suicide during the next sitting of the Legislative Assembly, which today was confirmed will happen.

Health and Justice minister Paul Okalik will be the chair of the special cabinet committee on quality of life, which will be tasked with implementing the recommendations from the coroner's inquest.

Okalik, a former premier of Nunavut, said he's honoured to take on the role.

He was emotional during his statement in the legislature, and spoke about his older brother's suicide when Okalik was 13 years old.

Okalik said he also contemplated suicide, but was saved by the love of his older sister.

The minister got a standing ovation when he finished his statement.

Inuit in Nunavut take their own lives at nearly 10 times the rate of average Canadians. Since Nunavut became a territory 15 years ago, there have been 486 suicides; 479 were Inuit.

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