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Active and Safe

Depending upon the Inuit region, the number of unintentional injuries in 1999 among Inuit in Canada has been estimated to be four to six times the national average. These rates reflect poorly on Canada as an advanced socially progressive country. According to Injuries in Nunavut: A Descriptive Analysis Report, August 2009, injury is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the under 25 population. Many of these injuries are preventable and prevention is one way the Nunavut Government can stem the increasing demand for health care resources and in the process build healthier communities.

This is supported by the knowledge that:

  • Nearly all injuries are preventable: injuries are not accidents
  • 37% of Nunavut fatalities from injury (1999-2007) are non-intentional
  • 33% of Nunavut non-fatal injuries (1999-2006) are related to suicide attempts
  • 35% of all fatalities from injury (1999-2007) are related to drugs or alcohol
  • 23% of non-intentional injuries (1999-2006) are related to a powered vehicle

The principal underlying causes of injuries around the world are ignorance, poverty, and violence. For Inuit, education is a critical part of any solution — there is a need for knowledge translation to ensure sustainable results. Inuit learn by observation, storytelling and by hands-on experiential teachings. Not only do Inuit need to learn about safety equipment and behaviours, but also in order to achieve long-term results, programs and initiatives must first learn from Inuit. Unique Inuit-specific solutions are required for there to be sustainable outcomes. A long-term commitment is required to address injuries in the North because the results may not be apparent immediately.

The cost of treating injuries is high — especially in the North — therefore programming that reduces injury rates will result in long-term savings on future health care and social programming costs. An immediate and sustained investment in injury prevention programs makes economic sense. The Inuit population is young. Over 50% of the population is under 25 years of age, therefore, injury prevention urgently needs to be targeted at youth.

This project worked with youth in four communities, one community in each Inuit land claim area that had participated in Journey to the Teachings (JTT) injury prevention training: Nunavik, Quebec; Nunatsiavut, Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic region; Inuvialuit, Northwest Territory and Nunavut (Northern Region). Journey to the Teachings was adapted to a three-day workshop specifically for youth. In each community youth were provided with various media to develop youth injury prevention messages around injury prevention related to recreation and sports to include but not limited to: skidoo use, all terrain vehicle use, boating, etc. This allowed youth to be active partners in programs and activities that affect them. Youth are the experts in how to talk to youth and are very innovative in how to get the message out. Engaging youth has always been a challenge for adults when approached from an adult perspective but if youth are provided with a venue to express themselves and offered the option of medium to develop Inuit specific messaging for youth the results will be positive and long-lasting. Messaging is directed to youth by youth. The final products have been shared with all Inuit communities via the Pauktuutit website and Youtube.

During the project, Pauktuutit partnered with all regional governments, land claim organizations and community leadership.