Inuit Mental Health Training
It was an amazing experience to be a part of this project, and in the company of my fellow Inuit... It is not always an easy thing on the road to healing but with guidance and education, it is so beneficial...it made me wish that I had been given this opportunity to learn when I was younger.
Finally, a mental health healing program created for Inuit, driven by Inuit. It's been life changing and highly recommended.
Rankin Inlet, NU
Breath work was a new concept for me. I had heard of it, but never actually learnt different techniques. I am VERY interested in it now. It felt great to try these different techniques, and as a throatsinger I absolutely LOVED how you interpreted this concept to be able to begin thinking about. I could definitely see myself utilizing this with individual participants that I work with as well.
Inuit Facilitators and Advocates
The Becoming Inummarik program grew out of a recognized need for Inuit to work through our emotions and traumas with other Inuit. The program has given us the opportunity to sit with one another and discuss our shared experiences to help us feel more connected, seen and heard in a culturally congruent way.
This work grew organically from a partnership with the Mandala Institute of Holistic Mental Health, experienced mental health practitioners who helped guide the research and creation of this program and its methods.
The membership of our cohorts come from a variety of backgrounds and fields but often repeat a similar experience of having never asked themselves the questions our program presents, nor had the opportunity to discuss these questions and benefit from sharing their answers amongst other Inuit in a safe, understanding environment.
Ordinary Member for the Canadian Constituency and Speaker of the Nunatsiavut Assembly
Participating in the training was an incredible experience, one that truly opened my eyes to the incredible power of connecting with fellow community members in a warm and supportive environment.
As I've delved deeper into my studies, it's become increasingly clear how Western perspectives and methods often don't fully resonate with our communities. Being part of the pilot program for Becoming Inummarik has been a game-changer for me. It's shown me that Inuit communities have the potential to shape how mental health services are delivered to us.
Watching the transformation in the participants during this program has not only shown me what's possible for community healing but also helped me understand the role I can play in that healing process. A role that contributes to my own wellbeing and fits within my vision for healthy, thriving Inuk communities.Since the pilot program, I've been fortunate enough to become a co-facilitator and an advocate for the program, and I'm excited about carving a path for other Inuit who, like me, aspire to make a meaningful contribution in the field of Inuit mental wellness.
Facilitator of Becoming Inummarik
Inuit Elders, activists and advocates have long called for Inuit-specific mental health training programs to be developed and made available to Inuit across Inuit Nunangat (the Inuit homelands). Decolonized mental health programming to address the mental health crisis within these communities is a need that has largely gone unaddressed for decades.
Our work in Inuit communities began with a series of conversations with Inuit wisdom-keeper, activist, and Officer of the Order of Canada (OC), Aaju Peter. After participating in a Mandala Institute training, Aaju recognized the resonance between the content of our Holistic Mental Health teachings and the teachings and philosophies of traditional Inuit culture.
From here we began a series of ongoing collaborations with Inuit leaders in mental health and healing with the aim of benefiting Inuit in Inuit Nunangat as well as in Southern Canada.
Along with Aaju, we count among our advisers and collaborators: the Juno Award winning performer, Officer of the Order of Canada, and founder of the Arctic Rose Foundation, Susan Aglukark; the Deputy Premier of the Territory of Nunavut Pamela Gross; Founder of the Inuit Tattoo Revitalization Project Hovak Johnston; and Bryan Winters, Ordinary Member and Speaker of the Nunatsiavut Assembly.
Presentation from 2022 Inuit Studies Conference
Along with his Inuit collaborators, Andrew Gentile delivered a panel presentation entitled "Decolonizing Mental Health through Inuit-Specific Mental Health Training Programs".
Mandala Institute highlighted in the Canadian Parliament
On October 20, 2022, Lori Idlout, the Member of Parliament for Nunavut, called upon the Canadian government to increase funding for Inuit-led mental health training programs, like the one we have developed and are delivering.
Presentation for the 2023 National Summit on Indigenous Mental Wellness
Karen Aglukark presents an update on the delivery of Becoming Inummarik as of October 2023 for the Summit held in Ottawa on October 25 and 26, 2023.
2021 Pilot Program
In 2021 we successfully completed developing the curriculum for, and piloting, a "heal-the-healer" introductory Inuit-specific mental health training program called "Becoming Inummarik"...
2022-23 Program Delivery
In 2022 and 2023 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...
2024 Program Outlook
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 ...
Inuit Mental Health Heal-the-Healer Program
Inuit Mental Health Model
Prior to developing the curriculum for this program, we embarked upon a research project to gain a clear understanding of Inuit views on mental health, mental illness, woundedness and healing.
This research culminated in the development of the 53-page white paper “Inuit Mental Health Model: Consolidating Inuit Knowledge on Mental Health and Mapping a Path of Healing for the Future”, which provided both the basis and Inuit-sourced mandate for not only the introductory curriculum that was delivered in 2021, but also for the larger vision of a three level Inuit-specific mental health certification training program.
The Inuit Mental Health Model research document is available for researchers on Academia.edu and for download as a PDF by the general public here.
Becoming Inummarik training manual cover.
Becoming Inummarik training team (Bryan Winters, Kelly Michelin-Morrissey, Andrew Gentile, Karen Aglukark) with coordinators from Kativik Ilisarniliriniq (Nunavik School Board)'s Department of Compassionate Services, and knowledge keeper supporting the program, Iola Metuq. Montreal, January 2023.
Positive Impact on Communities
Feedback from participants in the Becoming Inummarik program has been consistently and strongly positive.
Inuit participants have felt that they and their culture have been seen, heard, respected, supported and validated, and that the training made a contribution to their personal healing journeys.
Non-Inuit participants have gained deeper respect, understanding, and appreciation for Inuit culture and ways of being, and have felt better equipped to serve the Inuit community with greater compassion, cultural competency, and therefore confidence.
Many participants have called for the training to be made more widely available, particularly for both adults and youth in Northern communities.
"Great job at making the training a positive, non-judgemental safe space."
"The entire training was powerful, interesting, and educational. Thank you for a great week."
"The Elders sharing knowledge and people’s experiences were what really made this a healing and life changing experience and training."
"I found the conversations on identity were the most powerful, and realizing many thing through it."
"The most powerful conversation was about Inuit identity. It gives you a different perspective about the Inuit community, which is beneficial for the job."
"Everything was just amazing!! Thank you so much. This training changed some perspectives around some things in my life."
"I found Reflection Exercise #9 really valuable. Being able to visually see the areas in my life where I’m fulfilled and stressed helped me understand where I need to focus on positive change."
The Messy Book Program
We support the Arctic Rose Foundation (ARF) Messy Book Program, which provides creative arts training and safe spaces to explore themes of healing.
Our CEO and Co-Founder Andrew Gentile serves on the ARF team as their Holistic Mental Health Specialist providing trainings for ARF staff and volunteers remotely and onsite at locations across Nunavut.
In February 2020, the ARF was awarded a grant from the Arctic Inspiration Prize Charitable Trust to roll-out an additional program to support youth in multiple Northern communities on their path to high school graduation.
Andrew Gentile with Susan Aglukark and the Arctic Rose Foundation team, receiving an Arctic Inspiration Prize award in February, 2020.