We envision Indigenous youth and adults in Nunavik and other Northern regions equipped with the physical, mental, social, and emotional health needed to build vibrant, resilient, compassionate communities in which all generations may safely live, work, play, and dream.
The conversation on how to bring the dynamic mindfulness curriculum and training to Nunavik was only a few weeks old when there was a loss of a local youth to suicide. Once again the enormous grief and trauma that can seemingly define the entire world took hold of the community. Suicide rates for Inuit are 30 times higher as compared to the rest of Canada, and local organizations are woefully under-resourced to adequately respond to the frustration and pain that inevitably follows. Unbeknownst at the time, this would be the first of five suicides in the community within a three-month period.
With the unanimous support of the local municipal leadership, TLS Nunavik went from concept to implementation in less than three weeks. In mid-January of 2016, TLS Nunavik delivered their first offering of the Transformative Life Skills training in the northern village of Kuujjuaq with the help of the Niroga Institute’s founder and executive director, Bidyut ‘BK’ Bose.
Anticipating 10-20 participants, organizers found themselves scrambling to accommodate the over 270 community members that took part in the workshops throughout the week. More extensive certification-based training was also conducted with 43 health, educational, and government organizational staff, of whom 16 achieved the Dynamic Mindfulness Teacher (DMT) designation.
Feedback from the pilot project was overwhelmingly positive, and the requests that followed from other communities and organizations to provide the training again was equally encouraging. It seemed to validate a collective need for an evidenced-based program that provides accessible, pragmatic tools that can help prevent and overcome the immeasurable suffering that remains hidden within so many.
By the end of the first year, over 700 Nunavimmiut would participate in the TLS dynamic mindfulness program, including 481 children and youth from three community schools. Further, 51 local teachers, nurses, counselors, and program administrators from six of Nunavik’s communities achieved their first level of instructor training. This certified them to teach these tools to their clients, coworkers, students, family, and friends – and more importantly served to begin developing the local capacity to support, sustain, and grow the TLS program over time.
Christine is a very talented and highly respected entrepreneur in northern Québec. Based in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, she is the co-owner of Avaata Explorations Logistics Inc., which she founded with her husband Charlie in 2011. They supply logistical and management support for mining, exploration, and geological companies seeking to develop the natural resource potential of this remote northern region of Canada. Christine draws upon deep family ties and professional connections within the communities to facilitate economic development in a way that empowers and creates as much positive impact for local Inuit as possible.
Building on her enthusiasm for empowering others within her community, Christine co-founded TLS Nunavik in 2016. She has made mindfulness-based practices a part of her daily routine for many years, finding they provide her with an inner-strength that helps to manage the busyness and stresses of life and career. Christine really enjoys sharing her knowledge and practice with local youth, and serving as an instructor with TLS Nunavik has provided even more opportunities to engage with and inspire the next generation of community leaders and entrepreneurs.
Salimah has considered Nunavik home for over a decade, working primarily as a catalyst for community economic development in the region. As a former Senior Projects Officer with the Kativik Regional Government (2006-2013), Salimah coordinated and administered over $16 million in funding proposals that served to support local business development, skills training, customized resource development, and capacity building. More recently Salimah also worked with the Kativik School Board to oversee a blended learning initiative using technology, which led to the development of six Inuktitut language online modules aimed at improving accessibility and outcomes for the regional teacher education program.
Salimah has witnessed (and experienced) the extreme stress and fatigue that can undermine the sustainability of community projects, drain organizational talent, and hinder the success of individuals – preventing each from realizing their full potential. In 2010 she started Northern Lights Yoga in Kuujjuaq to teach community members relaxation and healing techniques to help combat workplace stress. In her desire to do more to help those that help others, Salimah co-founded TLS Nunavik to enable the introduction of mindfulness practices throughout the region.