In 2007, the Board of Directors of the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre, in Iqaluit, NU identified child and youth mental health and wellness as a priority issue to champion at our Centre. In 2010, we received funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada to implement our Child and Youth Mental Health and Wellness Research, Intervention and Community Advocacy Project in Nunavut.
Firstly, we developed the model for the camp which focuses 8 learning modules - we have titled the camp model the “Eight Ujarait/Rocks Model” to symbolize the way we envision the 8 modules providing the solid stone foundation of skills and knowledge upon which young people can build their lives. The 8 modules focus on topics highlighted by youth, parents/guardians, grandparents and youth workers as important in achieving and maintaining a strong sense of self. The learning modules include the following:
(1) Healthy Relationships
(2) Improving Coping Skills
(3) Increasing Awareness of the Body,
Movement & Nutrition
(4) Exploring Creativity
(5) Increasing Self-Esteem
(6) Self Discovery and Future Planning
(7) Promoting Healthy Choices (Tackling Peer
Pressure & Substance Abuse)
(8) Celebrating Inuit Culture.
Secondly, the model has been used as the foundation upon which to build a curriculum and series
of activities for the camp - the Makimautiksat Youth Wellness and Empowerment Camp. This
curriculum incorporates a number of ways of learning, including group discussions, individual
reflection, observational learning, activity-based learning, and role-playing. The curriculum
includes celebrating the arts and creativity, teachings from Elders, practicing of skills, and, most
importantly, having fun! The spirit of the camp is one of inclusion, acceptance, the celebration of
diversity, and the empowerment of youth.
The 10-day camp program includes both community-based and on-the-land components. The first
7 days are spent in the community, the last 2 full days and nights are spent on the land. The camp
concludes with a graduation celebration that is open to the whole community.
The involvement of healthy role models is a core component of the camp. Role models include
youth mentors, Elders, and community members sharing their wisdom and experiences related to
the topics in the learning modules. Several activities are included in the modules, such as roleplaying,
story-telling, games, preparing nutritious meals, photography, and more. The land camp
program focuses on celebrating Inuit culture and the campers learn about harvesting foods, living
on the land and learning from elders and community members about local and regional history.