Pubdate: Fri, 16 Jan 2004
Source: Nunatsiaq News (CN NU)
Copyright: 2004 Nortext Publishing Corporation
Author: Suzie Napayok


One thing I've noticed over the years concerns northern students from the 
communities entering college programs in bigger cities.

Alcohol and drug abuse is, unfortunately, a very real factor for students 
with tremendous potential who lose out and quit their programs. This would 
include studies in the nursing and medical fields, as well as others.

We desperately need nurses who are representative of our people, both here 
in the Northwest Territories, and in Nunavut, to serve our own people.

I want to strongly urge our governments, colleges and universities to 
provide pre-college counselling for students so they can be ready for life 
in the big city, where alcohol and drugs are always available.

I've seen students with tremendous potential and capabilities give up 
because of problems relating to alcohol and drug use, whether it be 
themselves or their spouses. As a population with many young people, we 
need to look at this risk much more seriously than we have. We more often 
come to secondary or higher education as small young families, and not as 
singles when compared to the rest of Canada.

Yellowknife and Iqaluit are young capitals but both, sadly, are very 
lacking in providing good alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs for 
their main assets - their people!

On the other hand you will find, right now, crack, coke, meths, 
hallucinatory drugs, hashish, marijuana and alcohol. It's odd, but true, 
that Inuit and Dene are much more susceptible than our western counterparts 
to alcohol addiction.

If we are to move ahead, we must begin at the roots. Healthy people make 
healthy choices. Unhealthy people continue living, more like surviving, in 
sickness and as a result, will continue to make unhealthy choices if there 
is nothing better to access that can inspire hope for change. This is so basic.

We can no longer allow ourselves to be defeated by a substance by 
pretending it isn't there. We can't afford to keep taking two steps forward 
and one step back in our dance of life. Things are tough enough as they are.

Providing services and dollars for our students, spouses, children and 
people in their communities and their cities, with immediate access as 
readily available as the cause, can change the terrible number of suicides 
and ruined lives, and will aid in reaching our potential. It's a matter of 
our people, our lives and it's a matter of importance. It's also the time 
for the government to act on it.

Suzie Napayok

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