2021 Pilot Program
In late 2021 we successfully completed developing the curriculum for, and piloting, a "heal-the-healer" introductory Inuit-specific mental health training program called "Becoming Inummarik", with Inummarik being an Inuktitut word that means "a whole person who can act with wisdom."
Becoming Inummarik focuses on Inuit-specific mental health education, normalizing conversations about mental health, skill building, and self-healing. This pilot program was made possible by Bryan Winters, then Executive Director of the Toronto Inuit Association, and with Seed Grant funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
The 80-hour program involved 9 urban Inuit who found that the program not only highly effective in improving their mental and emotional well-being, but also that it appropriately aligned with, and honoured, Inuit culture.
Inuit cultural and linguistic alignment
During the pilot program, cultural and linguistic input was provided by the knowledge keepers who participated in the program:
Susan Aglukark, originally from Arviat, Nunavut
Ilisapie Gordon, originally from Iqaluit, Nunavut
Hovak Johnston, originally from Cambridge Bay / Ikaluktutiak, Nunavut
We used this input to refine and improve the cultural and linguistic alignment of the program.
Andrew Gentile in a screenshot from the "Becoming Inummarik" pilot program that was delivered virtually in 2021.
2022 Program Delivery
In 2022 we expanded our work with our Inuit collaborators by presenting our work-to-date at the 2022 Inuit Studies Conference: Auviqsaqtut, held from June 19-22 in Winnipeg.
Along with our Inuit collaborators, Andrew Gentile presented a panel presentation entitled "Decolonizing Mental Health through Inuit-Specific Mental Health Training Programs". (You can see a recording of the presentation here or at the embedded video earlier on this page.)
In 2022, Andrew delivered the first portion of Becoming Inummarik to 15 Community Social Workers at the Mamisarvik Healing Centre in Ottawa, August 2022 (Days 1-5)
2023 Program Delivery
In 2023, the program was delivered to additional 59 participants:
34 Student Counselors and Student Support Professionals at Kativik Ilisarniliriniq (the school board of Nunavik) in Montreal, January 2023 (Days 1-5) and March 2023 (Days 6-10)
14 Counselors and youth workers at Tungasuvvingat Inuit in Ottawa, February 2023 (Days 1-5)
10 community support workers at Tungasuvvingat Inuit in Toronto, March 2023 (Days 1-5)
Moving the vision forward of the program becoming "by Inuit, for Inuit", all 2023 trainings involved co-facilitation from from our Inuit collaborators, who were in the role of "facilitators in training".
In alignment with our vision to decolonize Inuit mental health services, our goal is to have several Inuit facilitators become comfortable enough with the program material that one day the program can be completely Inuit-delivered.
2023 saw our training manual get translated into Inuktitut, and our trainings in Montreal benefited from simultaneous interpretation into Inuktitut, which was of great benefit to Inuktitut speakers.
Our 2023 trainings also taught us that the ideal implementation of the program involves Inuit knowledge keepers. While we were fortunate to be able to have some incredible knowledge keepers participate in some trainings, we also note that healthy knowledge keepers are in high demand and often difficult to find and schedule.
2024 Program Outlook
Upcoming trainings are currently being planned in coordination with the following organizations:
As we expand our delivery of Becoming Inummarik to more Inuit organizations, we continue our curriculum development on the next levels of training. The fulfillment of this vision will result in a three-level mental health training program that develops Inuit mental health practitioners, trained in Inuit-specific approaches, who can serve Inuit wherever they live.
We look forward to developing partnerships with more Inuit organizational and to securing funding that will allow us bring Becoming Inummarik and future programming to more Inuit across Canada, especially in the North.