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.”
For the deaf, sign language interpreters can bring artistic performances to life. In order to convey the meaning behind songs and stage shows properly, sign language interpreters often use their whole bodies to help express an artist’s vision. Check out this video of ASL interpreter Holly Maniatty at a recent Snoop Dogg show as she shakes it like a polaroid picture. A great example of how we all do better when everyone is included!
This weekend, there were a couple of interesting articles on representations of disability in the arts on CBC. In the first piece, writer Stephanie vanKampen looks at a couple of recent productions on stage and screen that tackled the topic of disability: Stella Meghie’s film Everything, Everything and Chris Abraham’s play The Boy in the Moon. Yet while both works address disability, the results are problematic as disability is either used (and then left aside) as a plot device, or is hidden and covered up. These problems can appear when people with disabilities aren’t given the opportunity to represent themselves. Check out this article for more information.
In contrast, Paul Hunter and Marie Claudet take a look at Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s mixed media installation Infinity Mirrors, which is currently wrapping up an exhibition at the Hirshhorn Gallery in Washington D.C. and will be coming to the AGO in Toronto next year. Kusama has been living with mental illness for decades, and has been risiding in a psychiatric hospital since the 1970s. She uses art to represent her mental illness and the way she sees the world, calling her stunning, visually dazzling installations “translated hallucinations.” Instead of the cultural appropriation displayed in the works discussed by vanKampen, Kusama’s original and beautiful art is an authentic, powerful, and innovative representation of disability. Check out this article for more information and some pictures of Kusama’s work
Welcome to the new website for the Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtiit Society! Embodying the IQ value of tunnganarniq, we strive to foster good spirits for all Nunavummiut by being open, welcoming, and INCLUSIVE!
With this updated website, we’ll be better able to keep people updated on our activities and engage with Nunavummiut on matters of disability. Over the next few weeks we’ll continue to build this site, with the aim to make it your one-stop-spot for information to benefit people with disabilities in the territory. Check in for all the latest news on our projects and programs. Visit our resources section for information on grants and supports for people with disabilities. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, reach out to us! We’d love to hear from you.