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Moving Forward with a Purpose in Kugluktuk after Residential School

carving wall promo DSC06261Effective listening is essential to the process of healing and personal growth; true reconciliation, whereby a person moves forward with a healthy sense of purpose in life, is very much aided by 'enculturation,' or a sense of belonging and identity with one's culture.

Dr. Handley developed this article based on the counseling format he finds best suits working with survivors and their families, and tailored it to assist our unique program for Kugluktukmiut. The article addresses the process of sharing, healing, reconciliation, and personal growth.

The purpose of the counselling and the workshops in Kugluktuk is to help individuals move forward into a meaningful and purposeful life. By moving forward individuals will become increasingly confident to use and enjoy all the resources that are available to them. This can be completed through individual counselling, by attending group counselling, or by participating in workshops.

As the lead Health Canada resource person working with the Society for Building a Healthier Kugluktuk, our counselling and workshops will explore the following:

1. Telling my story. The purpose is for the client to explore their personal situation and to determine the root causes of pain, trauma, sense of loss, or negative actions against others. The role of the counsellor is to listen to the client and to encourage the client to describe in his own words what is happening in his/her life.

2. Learning about myself. As a result of telling what happened to ourselves, we often discover positive things that we had not thought of for some time. Ask yourself: What did I learn about myself that I can be proud of?

3. Noticing positive changes in myself. Most often we find that we change our thinking and actions as a result of telling what happened. Sometimes, we realize how resilient we are. We also often notice that our thought, feelings and behaviours change as a result to motive forward to build positive relationships with others. An important question: how have I changed over time, from one experience to another? We learn and change as result of our mistakes. The rule is to do more of what is working and to stop doing the things that do not work. Avoid, or work constructively through thoughts and actions that leave your self in a rutt. Honour yourself.

4. Further Learning. Reaching a relaxed state of being is important so as to then ask yourself: what more do I need to learn about myself in order to continue to grow as a truly healthy person? This is where counselling, workshops and various cultural activities are most effective. It is difficult to make changes without help, encouragement and support from a trained counsellor or professional. While support from friends and family is very important, it is unlikely to cause grow in a meaningful and positive way should they themselves be coping with issues without the learning tools of trained counsellors and professionals. We often need to explore new ways of thinking and acting that will influence our feelings, and our personal journey to, and then beyond reconciliation. Topics covered during our counselling sessions and workshops will include: different methods of relaxation, attachment disorders, defence mechanisms, as well as personal and interpersonal strategies to help us move beyond loss, grief, abuse or trauma. We will explore ways and means of recovering the losses resulting from forced attendance at residential school (e.g. loss of family, language, culture, traditions, etc.).

5. Planning for the future. You may also ask: what steps do I take that will allow me to continue on my healing journey? What do I need to do next? The counsellor will assist you to develop and to carry out your own personal plan of action for your future. Regaining our culture and traditions is the key to our healing and recovery; so, the emphasis on the counselling, workshops and all cultural activities will focus on the individual needs of the client.

Together, reconciliation is possible! To start your journey towards a more fulfilling and purposeful life, call the Society for Building a Healthier Kugluktuk at 982-GROW (4769) and let�s make a plan for us to work together.

Do you want to talk with someone right now?
Are you in crisis? Do you need help?

Would you like to talk about an issue you are trying to figure out while on your journey toward reconciliation?

In Canada, phone 1-866-925-4419 toll free, anytime 24/7

Other free, culturally safe and private help lines

  • Women’s help line (24/7) 1-855-554-HEAL (4325)
  • Kids’ help line (24/7) 1-800-668-6868
  • Kids/Youth Help, Live Chat, 4pm – 9pm Kugluktuk Time (Mountain Time) on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays
  • Click here for LIVE CHAT
Contact your lawyer for assistance; or, phone Gayle McCarthy, Residential Schools Advisor, AWOC, 1-800-994-7477 or email:
What does reconciliation mean to you?