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Inuit Mental Health

Inuit Elders, activists and advocates have long been calling for Inuit-specific mental health training programs to be developed and made available to Inuit across Inuit Nunangat. 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 (the Inuit homelands) as well as in Southern Canada.


Along with Aaju, we count among our advisers and collaborators the Juno Award winning performer, OC, and founder of the Arctic Rose Foundation, Susan Aglukark , the Deputy Premier of the Territory of Nunavut Pamela Gross, and Bryan Winters, Senior Manager of Partnerships and Special Projects at Small Economy Works and Ordinary Member and Speaker of the Nunatsiavut Assembly.

Recent Updates...

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 mentioned 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.

"Becoming Inummarik"
Inuit Mental Health Heal-the-Healer Program

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 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, former Executive Director of the Toronto Inuit Association, and with Seed Grant funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Andrew Gentile in a screenshot from the "Becoming Inummarik" pilot program that was delivered virtually in 2021.

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 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 a 53-page white paper entitled “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 and for download as a PDF by the general public here.

2022 and Beyond - 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 his 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.)

So far, Andrew and his Inuit collaborators have delivered the first portion of Becoming Inummarik to:

  • 15 Community Social Workers at the Mamisarvik Healing Centre in Ottawa, August 2022 (Days 1-5)

  • 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)


Upcoming trainings are currently being planned for staff at 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.

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, 2021.

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