Taking Action to Advance the Inuit Vision
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Inuit are now openly talking about suicide. It’s not an easy topic. But we are talking about it, and that’s a good thing. We’re talking at the local, regional, and international levels.
One of the places at the international level where this topic is being discussed and worked on is at the Arctic Council. The Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) of the Arctic Council has pursued work on suicide prevention and mental wellness and under the Finnish Chairmanship (2017-2019) the SDWG fostered an initiative called Project CREATeS. It stands for Circumpolar Resilience, Engagement and Action Through Story.
The story part is the method we used to capture the testimony shared with us related to suicide, and of course our focus, which is suicide prevention. Through the use of Digital Story Telling, or DST, we have made a natural bridge for Indigenous youth and digital technology to allow this topic to be shared by all in the connected world we now all live in.
Youth from the Aleut International Association (AIA); Arctic Athabascan Council (AAC); Gwich’in Council International (GCI); Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC); and Saami Council (SC), met at regional workshops and came together at a circumpolar workshop in January 2019 in Inari, Finland.
In all 36 youth participants created 30 digital stories. Through creating a culturally safe space in which to talk and create stories out of experiences, our hope is to stimulate a dialogue across the Arctic, and engage youth in taking action for the prevention of suicide.
Project CREATeS was a hallmark of the Finnish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. We consider it a great success, and intend to continue the good work done, especially via DST. In fact, we want to ensure it continues during the next two Arctic Council chairs for Iceland (2019-2021), and Russia (2021-2023).
We’re pleased that during the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland in May of 2019, the final report from “Project CREATeS” was approved. You can find it here. A Project CREATeS website has been created and can be found here.
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