Let’s Be Aware / Ujjiqsuqta promotes the responsible use of alcohol in Nunavut. It is guided by a belief in community empowerment, and sees communities as valuable resources and contributors to reducing the harm of alcohol use on individuals, families and communities.
Information, tools and resources will be available to four key groups in Nunavut:
- General population
- Alcohol Education Committees
- Helping professions
- Youth and young adults
Let’s Be Aware / Ujjiqsuqta was developed and implemented with the help of the departments of Finance, Health, Education and Family Services.
In 2012, the Nunavut Liquor Act Review Task Force released A New Approach: Halting the Harm, a report that explains a far-reaching consultation process involving all Nunavut communities. The main objective of the report was to make recommendations related to the Liquor Act, including key recommendations for reducing alcohol-related harm, like educating the public in the area of responsible or less risky use of alcohol.
There are many external factors that make alcohol use unique in Nunavut compared to the rest of Canada. Some of these include:
- loss of cultural identity
- living conditions
- isolation due to the remote nature of communities
- ongoing past and present trauma, and
- systemic racism and discrimination
Halting the Harm identified concerns from community members that heavy drinking has become normal for too many people in Nunavut. Nunavummiut report more cases of binge drinking compared to the rest of the country, which has led to a culture where “high-risk” drinking, like heavy and binge drinking, is a common drinking pattern. According to Halting the Harm, this binge-drinking culture is responsible for a significant number of individual, family and social problems. Domestic violence is of particular concern, and overall violent crime rates are more than double the national average. The RCMP estimates that alcohol intoxication is responsible for up to 95 per cent of callouts and arrests in the territory.
Halting the Harm also highlighted the devastating impact of alcohol use on families. The Department of Family Services estimates that 90 per cent of child protection cases are related to alcohol. Alcohol use has also been linked to high rates of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, depression and suicide in Nunavut.
Let’s Be Aware / Ujjiqsuqta is not recommending that people do not drink alcohol. It is more about educating Nunavummiut on safe and socially responsible ways to drink alcohol that will reduce the harm for those who choose to drink. The vision is that Nunavummiut will have the knowledge and skills to practice moderation today, and encourage the responsible and safer use of alcohol for future generations.
The key objectives of Let’s Be Aware / Ujjiqsuqta are:
- Increasing Nunavummiut understanding of what safer and responsible use of alcohol is.
- Increasing Nunavummiut understanding of the risks associated with drinking alcohol.
- Creating opportunities where Nunavummiut can support each other to use alcohol safely and responsibly if they decide to drink, and act as positive role models in their families and communities.
- Addressing the myths about alcohol use and how it affects individuals, families and communities.
- Providing helping professions, Alcohol Education Committees, and community members with the information and tools they need to support a responsible and safer approach to alcohol use in their communities.