Our Life’s Journey with Ilisaqsivik Society

ACYF staff recently completed one of the modules of Our Life’s Journey, a counsellor’s training program offered by the Ilisaqsivik Society in beautiful Kangiqtugaapik (Clyde River). This program combines western and traditional Inuit knowledge and counselling. It incorporates Inuit language, culture, traditions and values and provides certificate training in Self-Actualization Therapy, Traditional Inuit Therapy, Individual and Group Therapy and Client-Centered Therapy to Counsellors. The graduate Counsellors are provided with the knowledge, skills and abilities  to counsel clients suffering from addictions, trauma, loss and grief, abuse and violence and suicide ideation.

Our staff took this course in order to better understand the counselling and healing model that Ilisaqsivik Counsellors work with. Our goal is to work with the creators, Elders, students and graduates of this program to create a child-centred trauma therapy framework for our Umingmak Centre clients. For more information, please go to the Ilisaqsivik website.

In Kangiqtugaapik, getting ready to go to the fishing derby



Looking Forward to 2018

Happy New Year! Here is a quick summary of what ACYF accomplished in 2017 and what we hope to accomplish in 2018, with your help!

In 2017:

  • 20 youth in Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay received Peer Leader Mental Health training
  • 80 youth received funding from JumpStart to start swimming lessons
  • 20 youth received funding from JumpStart for a yoga program
  • 30 community members completed Mental Health First Aid for Inuit training, delivered by Mamitsiivik Consulting
  • Peer Leader Mental Health materials under development to train local facilitators in 7 Nunavut communities (NTI funding)

Umingmak Child and Youth Support Centre development made great strides completing strategic planning, applying for multi-year funding, formalizing partnerships, developing our Policy and Protocols, and securing funding for equipment and much more. For more information on this project, please contact Sarah Clark, our Executive Director at sclark@acyf.ca. We have a lot of exciting work to do!

For 2018, our goals are:

  • Train 14 local residents in 7 communities to become Peer Leader Mental Health facilitators
  • Deliver Peer Leader Mental Health program to 80-100 youth across Nunavut
  • Complete development of the Umingmak Child and Youth Support Centre
  • Involve Canadians from across the nation in our organization (click here for more information)
  • Strengthen partnerships with local, territorial and national organizations
  • Develop 2 more programs to deliver across Nunavut that serve the needs of the communities, focusing on mental health and employment

Thanks to everyone we worked with in 2017 and looking forward to 2018, please contact or drop by our office in 8 Storey if you have any ideas, comments, questions, thoughts, or just want to chat!


ACYF receives support from RBC

Wade Brown, RBC, and ACYF chairperson Udloriak Hanson at the Nunavut Trade Show

We are very proud and grateful to receive a donation from Wade Brown, Associate Portfolio Manager and Wealth Advisor at RBC Dominion Securities. We were lucky to be able to meet Wade on his visit to to Iqaluit for the Nunavut Trade Show. RBC has been a great supporter of our Foundation and we look forward to continuing our partnership in serving Nunavummiut. This funding will go towards our mental health programs and our initiative to develop the Umingmak Child and Youth Support Centre, a centre that will support children, youth and their families after a disclosure of abuse.



A Donation from Across the Atlantic Ocean

ACYF was recently contacted by an organization in Berlin, Germany, stating that they would like to donate the proceeds of their Canada 150 celebration fundraiser to our Foundation. To begin with, I was unaware that Berlin celebrated Canada Day, and so, was doubly appreciative that they decided to donate to us. Deutsch-Kanadische Gesellschaft is a non-profit organization that promotes the economic, cultural and human-relations between Germany and Canada.

Embassy Councilor David Ehinger accepted the cheque in the name of our organization, fromHolger Bockner who organized the celebrations, in Berlin. (Interesting fact: Holger is the founder of the Poutine Kitchen, and responsible for bringing the first, authentic taste of the Canadian dish to Germany). Lilly and Tim, pictured here with our Chairperson, Udloriak Hanson, are participants of the DKG’s Student Program, and transferred the cheque officially to ACYF, here in Iqaluit. They have decided to travel and work in Canada, and have appreciated what they have learned in Iqaluit, especially to fish and build a bonfire. Alianait!

This donation will go directly towards the youth in our northern communities. We will use it to deliver mental health programs, and opportunities for youth to actualize their potential. Qujannamiik!



Request for Proposals – Peer Leader Mental Health – Train the Trainer Program

The Arctic Children and Youth Foundation (ACYF) is inviting qualified applicants to submit a proposal to develop content for the Peer Leader Mental Health – Train the Trainer program.


The scope of this project is the completion of a facilitator’s guide and participant workbook for the Peer Leader Mental Health program. It will include reviewing current program content, consulting with ACYF facilitator and Project Lead, and any suggested content or program improvements.


Submissions to undertake this work will be received until July 15, 2017 at 5:00pm EST. Proposal must quote “Peer Leader Mental Health – Train the Trainer program” on the cover sheet.


Proposals may be submitted to the Executive Director, identified below:

Sarah Clark
Executive Director
Arctic Children and Youth Foundation
P.O. Box 4206
Iqaluit, NU X0A 1H0

To access the full Request for Proposal, please click this link  RFP PLT4T


Peer Leader Mental Health

Expressing yourself is difficult, taking care of yourself and your friends is important and meeting people in your community that can help is key! These are the ideas that underlie our Peer Leader Mental Health program. This program was asked for by youth during our Umingmak Child and Youth Support Centre Feasibility Study, who stated they needed help dealing with trauma, both their own and their friends’. During the 3-day course, youth learn about historical, vicarious and personal trauma, ways to cope and express themselves and are connected with a strong peer network. They are also introduced to community members and role models who are there to help.

Recently, our Peer Leader Facilitator, Delma Autut, was in Cambridge Bay and will be traveling to Kugluktuk to deliver the program. In the future, we will be developing a Train the Trainer program and training local facilitators so that this program can be delivered year round by a local role model.


Arctic Children and Youth Foundation thanks NTI Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corporation for funding

Peer Leader delivery in Baker Lake in partnership with Embrace Life Council in November 2016

Arctic Children and Youth Foundation would like to excitedly announce that we will receive funding from NTI’s Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corporation for our Peer Leader Mental Health program and Train the Trainer program. We thank NTI MITC for entrusting ACYF, along with the other 11 Inuit training organizations who received funding, with the task to support healthy communities, families and Inuit. Please check back with us as we will provide updates on our progress and program delivery dates. For more information, click on the link below:

Nunavut Inuit training fund coughs up $3 million for 12 projects



Coming Out As LGBT+ In The North (And How It’s Been for Me)

In the past few years, life has changed for me in quite a number of ways. To start with, I was moved from my home in Ontario to Nunavut, in the arctic. It was quite a change on its’ own- going from hot, hot summers and fairly cold winters to cold air almost all the time. Along with that, after I moved up here, my life picked up in a number of ways; my passion for writing and drawing was picked up on and noticed by magazines and publishers, my health (both mental and physical) deteriorated, and I grew as a person.

However, one of the biggest changes for me was a fairly recent one- having only occurred over this past summer or so. During the summer (or shortly beforehand, to be more precise), I came out as transgender to my parents- and my family, shortly thereafter.

Despite my fears and concerns, it was overall a pleasantly surprising experience, if not still extremely stressful.

To clarify for all those who aren’t quite sure on what being transgender means, let me explain. Transgender is an umbrella term, used for those who identify as a gender separate from the sex they were assigned at birth- this can mean to be assigned the sex of male and identify as female, or to identify as non-binary, or any other gender.

In my case, I was assigned the sex of female at birth- but I identify as a male. A boy, a dude, a guy- whatever term you use. Naturally, this came as a shock to those in my family, and to my close friends.

While I’ve never been very “feminine” at all in my life, it still naturally was a shocking experience for my parents- but as I was ever so pleased to find out, they were accepting and willing to support me as I transitioned from presenting as female to male.

It was rocky, at first, of course. My parents slipped up a lot with the name, and they didn’t always use the proper pronoun- but they tried, and the trying has paid off so far (though still not without the occasional slip-up).

Of course, outside of my family, there was still a worry of my friends abandoning me, or being teased at school, or complications occurring with the community. Many fears that all LGBT+ people have when coming out and transitioning, and not all necessarily unfounded.

However, once again I was pleasantly surprised. Much to my shock and pleasure, the school was accepting and completely willing to change my name on the records to my preferred name, and the teachers all immediately were willing to act as support for me, and to refer to me with my preferred pronouns.

And even better was the response I received from my friends and the student body. For a long time as I started school, presenting as male rather than female, I felt as if I were waiting for the “other shoe to drop”, so to speak. It felt too smooth, too good to be true.

People just, as a whole, didn’t seem to care- and not in the negative way. It seemed to bother nobody that I was LGBT+, and though my friends naturally did have some trouble making the pronoun switch, not a single one abandoned me or acted any different towards me.

We still hung out, we still told the same jokes and talked about the same things, we still rough-housed and teased one another- the only difference being that they called me by the name I felt was mine.

Never did I hear a bad word said about me or to me- I wasn’t bullied, I wasn’t teased, I wasn’t ostracized by the student body. To be honest, I believe that being in the North actually has benefited me in this area- I can’t say for sure that the people down south would have been as accepting and open-minded, but a part of me strongly believes that they probably wouldn’t have.

While I can’t speak for everybody, as everybody has a different coming out story, for me, coming out as LGBT+ has so far been a positive experience, one that I am ever thankful for.

I’m thankful for my supportive parents and family, and for my friends, and for the open-mindedness of the school faculty and students, and for the community as a whole, for making my experience as being LGBT+ so positive so far.


Until Next Time,

Kieran B. Drachenberg