Youth speak out
Rankin Inlet conference gives youth forum to speak their minds

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Apr 08/98) - Joleen Haqpi of Baker Lake encourages young people to use their voices in the fight against suicide, substance abuse and other issues facing youth.

Haqpi was one of 38 youths from all seven Keewatin communities who attended a youth conference in Rankin Inlet March 27 to 30 that gave young people the opportunity to discuss their concerns about the future.

"It was touching and made me realize how powerful the youth can be if they speak up," she said.

Haqpi, a Grade 12 student, said that young people have to be reminded they have a voice that matters in society. Keeping problems inside, she said, doesn't solve anything.

"There's no reason to take your own life away because we will be heard if we speak up for ourselves," she said.

Christina Quinangnaq, also of Baker Lake, agreed, adding that the youth conference hit home the message of learning to talk about problems.

"The youth conference was OK, but people should hear what youths have to say," she said. "When you take your own life away, your family will see you underground and they will suffer the pain."

Quinangnaq also said that the only way youths can get the help they need is by asking for it and talking about what's going on inside them. The conference helped them learn how to ask for help and how to talk about their problems with counsellors.

"Please get help -- you have a lot of steps to learn," she said.

For Lillian Mannik of Baker Lake, the guest speakers like Sandy Kusugak and Gerry Pfleuger helped her understand the necessity of talking things out.

"Those guest speakers helped us understand what we should be doing instead of bad things like suicide, drinking, drugs, and dropping out of school," she said. "We can speak up and ask for help."

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