Inuit men of Nunavut have seen their community and family roles change significantly in the recent past. Ilisaqsivik runs several programs to support male youth, adults, and elders in their efforts to build meaningful lives and relationships in the context of change.
Men’s Group – Ilisaqsivik’s Men’s Group provides male youth, adults, and elders with opportunities to share cultural skills and knowledge and build bonds of trust and support while on the land. Inuit men of Nunavut have seen their community and family roles change significantly in the recent past. Settlement and wage employment has altered life significantly, and traditional male roles, which included hunting and providing food for their families, building shelters, and providing transportation, have changed. Many of the foundational beliefs about what it is to be a man in Inuit terms have been shaken drastically over the past three generations. In many cases, these changes have been devastating, resulting in loss of identity, self-esteem, positive male role models, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, and suicide.
Through Men’s Group activities, the Ilisaqsivik Society supports men in navigating social and cultural change. Our experience has shown us that many Inuit men feel empowered to share their experience and knowledge when they are performing traditional, gendered tasks. Land based activities, in particular, provide a safe, familiar, and empowering environment that supports Inuit men in feeling strong and healthy. Many of our Men’s Group activities therefore take place on the land, and focus on hunting, fishing, navigation, and survival skills.
Ataata/Irniq (Father/Son) Trip – One of the main Men’s Group activities is a winter or early spring hunting trip that involves elders, hunters, and youth, many of whom rarely have the chance to travel on the land. Participants travel by skidoo and dog team, hunt for seal, caribou, or arctic char, and hold group discussions over tea and in the evenings. When they return to Clyde River, the community celebrates their success with a community feast. The purpose of this trip is to reaffirm traditional men’s roles and their connection to the land, as well as promote the development of mentoring relationships between elders, men and youth, and the transfer of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit from elder to youth.