Innervation North initiative aims to improve the futures of Nunavut’s forgotten youth

Thursday 14th, July 2016 / 18:14
By Jennie Orton

IMG_8417 copyVANCOUVER — In our newest territory, at the northernmost inhabited municipality in the country, is a place called Resolute. The remoteness of this community makes everything from groceries, to travel, to even the infrastructure to provide electricity incredibly difficult and mind-bogglingly expensive. It is this solitude that creates the environment of hopelessness that has led to Nunavut having the highest suicide rates in the country: especially in children and teens by a shocking margin.

This is where the four souls behind Innervation North come in. Julia Bendtsen, Maya Gulin, Jessie Block, and Megan Risk are best friends who came up with the idea when a desire to create a summer art camp intersected with the sudden awareness of the need for empowerment in the Nunavut community.

“A lot of the kids just give up because they feel like there isn’t any help,” says Block. “Like they are prisoners where they live.”

Block’s mother, Joyce, works with the youth population in Resolute and believed it was the perfect location for an immersive life skills experience. Three months after this idea was formulated, the girls had raised the money for their program and were booked to depart earlier this month.

IMG_8367 copyInnervation North is a multi-faceted two-module program that will bring the friends to Resolute for two weeks to teach 33 kids about meditation, art, nutrition, fitness, and self-care. Then, six kids who have shown the most initiative in their school career will be flown back to Vancouver where they’ll enjoy university tours, adventures around the city, and an outdoor retreat to a lodge in Merritt. The idea is to give these kids the opportunity to experience life outside of Resolute, as well as empower them to survive the harsh conditions and frequent tragedy of life at home.

“I think investing in the youth in the community is a great way to help shape the future of that community,” says Risk, “because they are the ones who are going to be carrying the torch.”

Contributions have come from invested community members, youth boards, and private donors in the area of Resolute, as well as physical donations of materials needed for the modules such as yoga mats donated by Lululemon. John and Wendy Glazema at Cold Water Ranch donated their facility for the Merritt retreat. The whirlwind experience has been an exhilarating one for the four friends, one that has strengthened not only their bond but also their resolve.

“It’s been a really wonderful model for ourselves to build off of, to keep doing this but also as an example for our participants,” says Block. “Like, ‘what do you want to do? Do you have a dream? Do you have a vision of what you want to put out there?’ Chase it.”

If you are interested in Innervation North, please visit their website at www.innervationnorth.wix.com/2016 or to donate, visit www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/innervation-north

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