RISING SUN Arctic Council Workshop
Reducing the Incidence of Suicide in Indigenous Groups – Strengths United through Networks

March 1-2, 2017
Iqaluit, Nunavut

Arctic Council Workshop
March 2017 – Program


The suicide rate among Inuit communities across the Arctic is among the highest in the world. In Canada, the suicide rate among Inuit regions ranges from five to 25 times higher than the Canadian average. Facing these alarming numbers, Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna declared suicide a public health crisis in the territory on October 25, 2015. In early 2016, the Government of Nunavut released a one-year rapid action plan for suicide prevention in Nunavut, entitled Resiliency Within: An action plan for suicide prevention in Nunavut 2016–2017. At a national level, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) has developed the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy which aims to coordinate actions to prevent suicide among Inuit. In parallel to these territorial and national responses to this crisis, international cooperation is key to address this important issue across the Arctic states.

"Reducing the Incidence of Suicide in Indigenous Groups - Strengths United through Networks" or RISING SUN is an initiative designed to build upon the Canadian-initiated mental wellness project of 2013–2015. Whereas the Canadian-initiated project focused on best practices from the literature and community-based interventions, RISING SUN is compiling a common, science-based set of outcomes and measures to evaluate the key correlates associated with suicide prevention interventions, across Arctic states, including Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

Common metrics, developed through an iterative engagement with Permanent Participants, community leaders, and mental health experts, will facilitate data sharing and pooling, evaluation, and interpretation of interventions across service systems. These metrics will aid health workers to better serve the needs of their communities while helping policy makers measure progress, evaluate the scale up of interventions, and identify impediments to implementation and cultural adaptability challenges. Arriving at common metrics and reporting systems is especially important in the Arctic, where the vast geography, number of remote communities, and breadth of cultural diversity, pose challenges for systematic approaches to suicide prevention.

The project will result in a toolkit of common outcomes and measures for suicide prevention efforts, applicable across the Arctic, which could expand Arctic states' capacity to evaluate the effectiveness of evidence-based interventions to combat suicide. A final report synthesizing results from the described activities will be delivered by the end of the U.S. chairmanship in the spring of 2017, highlighting the work done through this project and laying out options for coordinated implementation of the toolkit and evaluation of efforts to scale-up effective interventions during future Arctic Council chairmanships, at the discretion of Arctic Council member states and their respective mental health stakeholders.

Workshop objectives

The Workshop has two specific goals. The first goal is to review both the Canadian and international communities' collective understanding of suicide that will ultimately lead to a clear and common definition of suicide determinants in the Arctic. It will also allow participants to assess activities of the past five years of evidence gathering and strategies (starting with the Nuuk Conference and up to the more recent development of the RISING SUN Initiative and ITK's National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy).

The second goal of the Workshop is to jointly determine a format and dissemination strategy that will maximize opportunities for cooperative implementation of the RISING SUN toolkit. This will take into account current activities underway in the Arctic Council countries that are related to building resilience and preventing suicide. This will also lead to the development of a path forward for future activities under the Arctic Council leadership of Finland's Chairmanship (2017-2019). A Workshop report will be developed and disseminated following the event.

Workshop Program

Frobisher Inn, Astro Hill Complex, Iqaluit, NU
March 1 and 2, 2017


Mary Ashoona Bergin, Cross Sector Planning Coordinator, Government of Nunavut &
Michel Perron, Vice-President, External Affairs and Business Development, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Day 1 – March 1


Registration opens


Meet and greet; coffee and light breakfast


Opening Ceremony - Elder Elisapi Aningmiuq


Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Okalik Eegeesiak, Chair, Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC)
  • The Honourable George Hickes, Nunavut's Minister of Health
  • Alison LeClaire, Senior Arctic Official of Canada
  • Pamela Collins, Director, Office for Research on Disparities & Global Mental Health, National Institute of Mental Health


Keynote Speaker - Natan Obed, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami


Networking break


Panel discussion - Review of evidence and progress in the past five years - What we've learned:

  • Nuuk Conference & Greenland Strategy - Christina Larsen, Researcher, National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark
  • Canadian Chairmanship - Alain Beaudet, President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy - Natan Obed, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
  • Strategy on Mental Wellness Presentation - Jon Petter Stoor, Saami Norwegian National Advisory Board




Open dialogue (Colloquy format) with the panelists - Research perspective on how successful implementation of strategy has been, what works and what are the gaps – including questions and Comments from all the participants:

  • Brian Mishara, Université du Québec à Montréal
  • Alison Crawford, Medical Director, Outreach and Telepsychiatry, University of Toronto
  • Stacy Rasmus, Research Associate Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Gwen Healey, Executive and Scientific Director, Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre, Iqaluit


Networking break


Youth's Perspective – Becky Kilabuk, Regional Youth Programs Coordinator, Qikiqtani Inuit Association


Closing Remarks


End of Day 1


Documentary screening : We Breathe Again

Day 2 – March 2


Coffee and light breakfast


Opening Remarks - Alain Beaudet, President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research


Testimonial - Joanasie Akumalik, Community leader


Arctic Council's Permanent Participants perspective

Moderator: Wayne Walsh, Director General, Circumpolar Affairs Directorate – Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

  • Patricia Modeste - Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC)
  • Ethel Blake - Gwich'in Council International (GCI)
  • Minnie Grey - Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC)
  • Per Jonas Partapuoli - Saami Council (SC)


Networking break


Progress update on the RISING SUN Initiative and its components: Delphi methodology, Meetings outcomes & Toolkit – Presentation from Pamela Collins, Stacy Rasmus, Charlene Apok, Jon Petter Stoor & Roberto Delgado




Breakout Session

  • Focus: RISING SUN / family and community level interventions / relationships; how to reconcile quantitative and indigenous measures and identifying future research areas.


Reporting in plenary on breakout sessions


Networking break


Way forward: Opportunity & Challenges - Natan Obed, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami & Okalik Eegeesiak, Chair, Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC)


Finland Chairmanship 2017-2019 - Heidi Anita Ericksen, Utsjoki Health Care Centre, Finland


Closing Remarks


Closing Ceremony - Elder Elisapi Aningmiuq


End of workshop

* Program is subject to change without notice.


The RISING SUN Arctic Council workshop, an initiative of the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group, is hosted by the Government of Nunavut, the Government of Canada and the Inuit Circumpolar Council in partnership with co-leads Arctic Council states on the overall initiative: Norway, the Kingdom of Denmark, the United States and Canada. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the United States Arctic Council Chairmanship wish to thank the following organizations for their partnership and support for this event:



For more information about this event, please go to the Arctic Council Workshop 2017, the website for the National Institute of Mental Health or e-mail International@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.

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