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northern summit 2019 synthesis

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Meet the delegates

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Meet the delegates

Background & context

Suicides in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut are poorly reported, as are rates of mental illness. We asked you what creates mental health struggle and what stops people from seeking help in your communities. Here is what you had to say:
The biggest barriers to help-seeking in Northern communities:
said there was a lack of knowledge
said their peers don’t know who to speak to if they’re struggling with their mental health
said that there were few resources to support those struggling with their mental health
The biggest stressors that create mental health struggle among young people in the North:
said that academic stress created the most mental health struggle
tied mental health struggle to trouble related to housing
tied mental health struggle to financial instability
Background & Context

Keynote speakers

Paul Nutarariaq

Paul Nutarariaq is a Canadian Inuit actor with Ojibwe-Cree background. He is most noted for his performance in the 2018 film The Grizzlies, for which he received a Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Actor at the 7th Canadian Screen Awards in 2019.

He is originally from Igloolik, Nunavut but was primarily raised in Iqaluit, and currently lives in St. Isidore, Ontario.

He previously appeared in the films Throat Song and Iqaluit and in the CBC comedy series Little Dog.

Hovak Johnston

Hovak Johnston is an Inuk woman who was raised on the land in the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut until she was sent away to school. Using her Inuinnaqtun name given to her at birth is her way of carrying on a past relative’s name and the characteristics of that ancestor. Hovak has a deep connection to her culture and traditional arts and skills. Hovak does some type of traditional artwork every day, from sewing, soapstone carving, jewellery making, tanning hides, and fleshing and preparing skins to her latest type of art, tattooing.

Keynote Speaker 1
Keynote Speaker 2

Northern Jack Summit in the news




CKLB RADIO (again!)

Collaborative session #1


1. How do people think and talk about mental health in your community?

  • There are conversations about mental health on post-secondary campuses, but outside of campuses and cities, there are too few conversations about mental health.

  • We need to have more conversations about mental health in the workplace and in the community,

  • It's important to loop older generations into conversations about mental health and make them comfortable enough to have conversations with younger people.

  • Language around mental health is created by western mental health professionals and feels as if it's been dropped into northern contexts.

2. What keeps people from seeking help?

  • Young people are afraid to be judged by their peers and adults in their community.

  • There are too many competing priorities (i.e. school, home life, work).

  • There is a resistance to doing “uppity” activities like seeking therapy or mental health support.

  • There are concerns about paying for services or receiving support that meets the needs of young people.

  • There is a poor understanding of what mental health services exist in the community.

3. What gaps can you identify in your community’s mental health system?

  • The physician is the gatekeeper to mental health services. It's very difficult to access mental health services without going through your physician first.

  • Services are fragmented, resulting in people getting lost during referrals.

  • Many supports and services are “fly-in,” not routinely offered, and not culturally sensitive.

  • We need programs that serve those going through a crisis, but also those who may be struggling with their mental health without a diagnosis.


Collaborative session #2:

What goals can we set to address these problems?

  • Train and compensate mental health professionals from the community

  • Advocate for mental health education in the curriculum

  • Normalize conversations about mental health with family and friends

  • Educate adult allies to have conversations about mental health with young people in their lives

  • Provide support informally to peers in the community

Collaborative session #3:


How can you take back some of the skills you've learned at Northern Summit to work towards some of the goals you identified in your community?

  • Use Be There's Golden Rules to support peers in our community when they need help

  • Pressure politicians to promote youth mental health and raise mental health on policy agendas

  • Find and adapt mental health resources to northern contexts so young people can get the support they need

  • Help young people in our community access support by advising them of where affordable, high-quality resources exist

Collaborative session #4:


If you could speak to an adult ally (i.e. principal, policy maker) for support to improve youth mental health, what would you tell them?

  • Create policy to educate and keep mental health workers in the north

  • Invest in youth-specific mental health services that meet the needs of young people in the north

  • Ensure continuity of care so that resources are allocated to support young people’s needs from promotion to prevention of mental health struggle to responding to a crisis

  • Invest in mental health services, specifically in rural and remote areas

  • Think beyond mental health services and promote mental health by meeting people’s basic needs

Key takeaways:


  1. Stigma must be eradicated. Stigma still persists in many northern communities. To combat this, we must be relentless in our pursuit of honest and safe conversations, making sure our peers feel no shame or judgement.

  2. Local service providers must be encouraged. Fly-in services and a lack of local support providers can lead to care being infrequent, inconsistent, and culturally insensitive. We must put pressure on governments to put policies in place that keep service providers working directly in their communities for longer periods of time.

  3. Our communities must care for one another. While services are limited, and those that are available are often informed by western practices, we must make sure our communities have the tools they need to promote better mental health. We must work to educate our communities about their mental health and use tools like Be There to support one another.

Collab Session 1
Collab Session 2
Collb Session 3
Collb Sesson 4

Next steps

Eradicate stigma.

  • Have one conversation with an adult about mental health in your community.

  • Host an "adult ally" night where you bring several adults together to talk about the importance of mental health.

  • Sign up for a Do Something initiative at Look for the initiatives marked Attitudes to address stigma in your community.

  • Start or join a Jack Chapter. Chapters are minimizing stigma in communities all across the country.

Advocate for better services.

  • Host a letter writing party to tell your local governments how important local mental health services are.

  • Write an op-ed about the importance of local mental health services. Share it with us at, local media, and your social networks.

  • Research organizations or supports in your community that are culturally appropriate and run by local community members. Volunteer with them and share their information widely with your social networks.

  • Read and share's Youth Voice Report, which uses youth insight to make five key recommendations to adult allies on how they can promote better youth mental health.

Encourage community care.

  • Become a Jack Talks speaker and educate young people about how to recognize signs of struggle and support one another.

  • Share widely with friends and family so they are better able to be there for one another.

Next steps

And don't forget!

Make sure you join the Network Group Facebook page to stay connected to the movement.

Connect and share with the national movement at

Jack Chapters → Bring lasting change to your community by starting or joining a Jack Chapter. Reach out to to get the ball rolling.


Jack Talks → Talks provide young people with the education to recognize signs of struggle and route people to the support they need. You can bring one to your community or become a Jack Talks speaker at

Do Something → The mental health movement is shaping systems, smashing stigma, and so much more. Every action is essential. Start a Do Something initiative in your community.


Be There → People are getting better at speaking up about struggle, but too few of us know how to give that essential support. Be There exists to guide you through the basics. Whether you have 5 minutes or 5 hours, get started at

Thank you to our revolutionary sponsors.

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