“I wanted my son to live, and… Nunavut couldn’t help me do that.”

mandy-sammurtok-son

One thing we at NDMS have consistently heard from Nunavummiut is the need for better access to services and professionals. The barriers preventing better access to services for Nunavummiut are well known, from a lack of professionals in the territory to the remote locations of communities and the high cost of travel. But the time has come for the GN to take the lead on overcoming these barriers and provide more funding for mental health care and professional services. While the situation regarding access to mental health programs and counselling or the expertise of occupational therapists, audiologists, and physical therapists in Iqaluit is less than ideal, the situation in Nunavut’s other communities can be quite dire. During a community visit to Pangnirtung last year, a father in the community told us how his young son, who needs assistive devices in order to be mobile, could only see a physical therapist for 30 minutes every six months – barely enough time to say hello and take off one’s coat and boots! For some families, such as Mandy Sammurtok and her teenage son, the only option in a time of crisis is to leave the territory to access the more robust services down south. For Sammurtok, this decision meant leaving her job as a lawyer in Rankin Inlet as well as her friends and family, so that her son could get treatment for PTSD. As Sammurtok said in a recent CBC feature, “We should be able to be home. I should be able to work and my son should be able to get help.”

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