The community of Qamanittuaq, like many communities in Nunavut, suffers from disproportionate levels of youth suicide and substance related deaths (statistics Canada, 2016, Tootoo, 2018). This uncharacteristically high suicide rate in Nunavut has been described by Kral (2019) as a phenomenon that is a direct response to colonial disruption. The territory has begun to address the challenge strategically with the Inuusivut Anninaqtuq (IA) 2017-2022 action plan (United for Life, 2017). One key feature of the plan is to support community-led action for suicide prevention. This article presents the results from the first phase of a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded Participatory Action Research Project designed to empower youth as leaders and change agents in their community. Within phase one, we sought to answer to the following research question: what factors impact youth identity development and consciousness about traditional and contemporary Inuit values, culture, and knowledge systems? Through focus groups held with Grade 10-12 youth within the context of the Aulajaagtut course offering at the local High School, we wanted to learn how youth defined their Inuk identity in the face of pressures from school, community and media. Through an analysis of the thoughts and products shared within the focus groups conducted in February 2019, we were able to gather insights into factors that helped or hindered pride in identity, resilience in the face of challenges and a sense of wellbeing/belonging in community. This article gives voice to the youth who are often unheard in discussions of curriculum development and solutions to complex community issues.
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Inuit identity, suicide prevention, decolonising education
Published in Volume 28(1) Wayfinding Conversations: rethinking education to disrupt marginality,