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NNSL Photo/Graphic

Brian Hart, George Dunkerley, back row from left, Thomas Suvissak, Mary Angidlik, Corinne DeBreo, Marie Tiktak, Philip Noolook, Mary Fredland, Mary Fuhr, Emiline Kowmuk, middle row from left, Jacinta Suvissak, Jennifer Berry, and Sherry Morey, front row from left, partnered to form the Elder's Traditional Counselling program in Rankin Inlet earlier this month. Missing from photo are elders committee members Bernadette Saumik, Robert Tatty and Maggie Akerolik. - photo courtesy of Thomas Suvissak

Guiding the traditional path

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2007

RANKIN INLET - A group of elders in Rankin Inlet is providing a little guidance to those in need of traditional advice.

The formation of the Elders Traditional Counselling program came about through the combined efforts of a number of agencies.

Former Kivalliq Outreach program co-ordinator Brian Hart said members of the elders' group have been volunteering their time to help others for the past few months.

He said the group will now get paid for providing traditional counselling within the program.

"Social Services are on-board with this, as well as the victim support and spousal abuse programs," said Hart.

"The elders will be shared by multiple groups that conduct support and counselling within Rankin and the Kivalliq region."

Hart said the elders applied for program funding this past spring, but missed the deadline by a couple of weeks.

He said they continued on and were doing some suicide-prevention counselling with certain individuals in the community.

"They had been meeting with Corinne DeBreo at Social Services, but were still running into dead ends - as far as securing any type of assistance - and that's how I got involved.

"As we were meeting to figure out exactly what they wanted to do as a group of unilingual elders, a position became vacant within my (Outreach) program's budget.

"I decided to get them funds for what they wanted to do by paying them the same wage I'd pay a family-support worker.

"So, there will be one paid position being shared by four or five individuals."

The arrangement provides the elders with a place to work, a phone, a fax machine, and a way for people who need their services to contact them.

Hart said the elders will now be able to conduct traditional counselling, keep track of their hours and be remunerated for their efforts.

He said the elders will do traditional counselling for family and relationships, suicide prevention and addictions, as well as provide support for the victim support and spousal abuse programs.

"The elders have given us their home phone numbers so they can be contacted on a 24/7 basis.

"Anyone who wishes to avail themselves of this service can contact them directly, or through Kivalliq Outreach, the Friendship Centre or Social Services.

"This will allow us to have traditional counselling available, in an organized sense, both in Rankin and the region as a whole.

"That's a valuable resource to have access to."