Remarks given by

Louise Bradley, President & CEO
Mental Health Commission of Canada

at the

Launch of the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy

Kuujuwak, Quebec
July 27, 2016


I’m honoured, and very fortunate to be here to witness the launch of the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Suicide Strategy.  

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional territory of Nunatsiavut.

Though I am Newfoundlander, this my first visit to Hebron. It’s a true privilege to be in this extraordinary setting. The beauty of the landscape is matched by the resilience of the people. People who are changing the narrative of this place from a dark period to one of hope and renewal.

The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is shaping a way forward to address an issue that is deeply affecting Inuit communities – and our wellness as a nation. This is how things need to be done.  

The challenges experienced in Inuit communities are the result of generations of external influence and intervention, the effects of relocation in particular.  This Strategy could be considered a fulcrum – a tipping point – where the power balance is restored.

Les défis que les collectivités inuites ont à relever sont le résultat de générations d’influences externes et d’interventions de l’extérieur, et en particulier des effets de la relocalisation. Cette Stratégie pourrait être considérée comme un tournant – un seuil critique où l’équilibre des forces est rétabli.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is here at the request of ITK. We understand that our role is a supporting one – and it’s by express invitation.  Over the years, the MHCC has worked tirelessly to include and amplify the voices of people with lived experience of mental health problems and illnesses in all our decision making.

La Commission de la santé mentale du Canada est ici à la demande d’ITK. Nous comprenons que notre rôle en est un de soutien — et expressément sur invitation. Au fil des ans, la Commission a travaillé sans relâche pour inclure et amplifier les voix des personnes ayant un vécu expérientiel de problèmes de santé mentale et de maladies mentales dans la prise de toutes ses décisions.

“Nothing about us, without us” is a mental health mantra that I have internalized and now comes second nature.  However, in the context of Indigenous peoples, this lesson must be taken one step farther, and they must lead the way.

Today, as the MHCC is on a path to reconciliation, we are moving forward with a humble spirit and open heart.  We look forward to continuing to partner and support the efforts of ITK, the National Committee on Health, the Alianait Inuit Mental Wellness Advisory Committee, and the National Inuit Youth Council, as they lead the way forward.

A new future begins with recognizing that suicide prevention is part of a bigger picture. This pressing societal issue requires a commitment to redressing decades of racism and inequality, which have led to unmet basic needs: we are talking about housing, food security and clean water…rights every Canadian should expect.

Un nouvel avenir commence par la reconnaissance que la prévention du suicide s’inscrit dans un contexte plus vaste. Cet enjeu sociétal pressant nécessite un engagement, celui de redresser les décennies de racisme et d’inégalité qui ont fait que des besoins de base sont demeurés insatisfaits : je veux parler ici de logement, de sécurité alimentaire et d’eau potable… des droits sur lesquels chaque Canadienne et chaque Canadien devraient pouvoir compter.

Moving forward, the MHCC hopes to assist with the Strategy’s implementation, including the provision of Mental Health First Aid Inuit. We have worked collaboratively with the ITK over the past two years to develop this adaptation, which is tailored specifically to the needs of Inuit communities, is informed by Inuit knowledge and culture, and is taught be Inuit instructors.

Désormais, la Commission de la santé mentale du Canada espère prêter son concours à la mise en œuvre de la Stratégie, notamment en dispensant des cours de Premiers soins en santé mentale pour les Inuits. Nous avons travaillé en collaboration avec ITK pendant les deux dernières années pour mettre au point cette version adaptée des Premiers soins en santé mentale qui est axée spécifiquement sur les besoins des collectivités inuites, qui est imprégnée du savoir et de la culture des Inuits et qui est dispensée par des instructrices et des instructeurs inuits.

On personal note, I am grateful for my growing relationship with ITK and for the continued opportunity to nurture the trust we are building.  

It is a privilege to stand with you to mark this historic day. I am confident the greatest achievements are yet to come.

Thank you.