Have you visited us in Kugluktuk, or just visited our community, and made some friends? Would you like to share some blog thoughts about Kugluktuk's goals and dreams? Contact us and we'll set you up here on our blog page.
The more the merrier so there's no pressure on you to blog all the time ... even though Kugluktukmiut and others would love to read what you have to say!
A huge thanks to Ariel Tweto for keeping in touch, and for wanting to blog. Thanks for touching our hearts in Kugluktuk. All your friends and fans you met in the Kitikmeot communities say: Koana!
Ariel's Blog - I Don't Cry Anymore Part 2by Guest Blog on 2014-05-14
Good day everyone...How is the Bubble Popping going for you....??? I sure miss all of you and I am sure you will hear from me again real soon...got some amazing plans in the works right now..WOOHOO!!!!
I hope that you have been reading my blog...In my last entry i started sharing my story about my feelings about suicide and how it has affected me. This is part 2 of my story...It was very difficult to write but it has helped me heal. Please don't ever forget, there are people that will listen to you and want to help. If you are having troubles Popping your Bubbles...please talk to someone...and remember it is alright if you fail...just learn from the experience and keep trying. Together we will make Kugluktuk and the World a better place for everyone!
Also, I am really excited to finally launch our Popping Bubbles website. The site is at www.popping-bubbles.com I am very happy with the way it looks, but I need your help. We want to hear your stories...we want you to be a Motivation Hero. Check out the website and please share with us as I have shared with you...it will make you feel better! Dave (CRASH...funny now)has been working on the website and can be reached at email@example.com don't be afraid to email him any questions.
Looking forward to see you all again!! Now, here is Part 2 and the conclusion of my story....
A lot of people in the villages' only support system is to pray to “God” or to other belief systems for help. We need to be able to ask people here on earth for advice and support as well. Because in all honesty, I don’t think God can do a lot from Heaven. Yes, keep praying and talking to him if that makes you happier and gives you comfort, but I don’t think we should rely on him for everything. He seems like a really busy guy. Let's lighten his load a little…it’s called consideration people! Don’t get me wrong, I am all about believing in a higher power and having faith; but the point that I am trying to make is that we have to be proactive down here. Right now. We can’t rely solely on our belief systems if we are going to end this epidemic. Which we will. I 100% believe it.
But I digress, let me take a step back to tell you why I feel so strongly about this issue. I first became interested in suicide prevention a couple of years ago after my friend, my classmate, and my competition in everything from basketball to math class, killed himself. He made me get my first technical in basketball. He was pinching me so I socked him. What was I supposed to do? He was ALMOST my first kiss in a game of truth or dare but I ran away. He was my knight at prom, and he always gave the best hugs when I would come home to visit after moving from the village. When I received the news that he took his life I was so confused. He was one of the last people in the world that I ever thought would become a victim of suicide. He had a lot of friends and a wonderful family, was smart and, dare I say it, pretty decent looking. I can’t believe I just said that. He is probably blushing and giving himself a high five right now. He was in college and had so much going for him. He seemed really happy in life. I began asking myself all sorts of questions. Why did he do it? Why does anybody do it? What was he thinking? Was he thinking? How could a person who seemed so put together take their own life? I began doing research and reading about different symptom of why something like this occurs.
I learned that undiagnosed mental illnesses, lack of purpose in life, not enough daylight, not being able to balance a traditional lifestyle in a modern world, alcohol/drug use, and bullying are all symptoms of suicide. I read a lot of scholarly articles about suicide and suicide prevention but didn’t find the answers I was looking for. I came across a lot of statistics and facts, such as 15% of those who are clinically depressed die by suicide and suicide rates in the United States are highest in the spring, but no sound answers to my questions. I also discovered that there hasn’t been a lot of research done on suicide, specifically in rural areas. Why is that?
There is a large amount of research and funding going into cancer and other illnesses, yet suicide, which was the 10th leading cause of death amongst Americans in 2010, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, doesn’t even compare in terms of the amount of energy put into finding answers and a possible cure. I believe that it is because no one could put a label on suicide. What is suicide? Is it a result of an undiagnosed mental illness? Possibly. Does it occur because of a chemical imbalance? Maybe sometimes. Is it an act out of confusion, loneliness, or the feeling of having no purpose or reason to live? Same answer, sometimes. That is the problem. Suicide can’t be categorized. Therefore, it is hard to get funding from businesses to do research on it because they don’t want to be associated with suicide. According to the Webster Dictionary, suicide is “the act of killing yourself because you do not want to continue living”. That may be true in some cases but definitely not in a large number of them. I hear people say it is a selfish act. But is it? Maybe in some instances, but definitely not all the time. Is it selfish if someone was ill and felt like they were a burden to their family, so they killed themselves to help their loved ones? Or if they were in so much pain that it was unbearable? I don’t think that is selfish.
What about when alcohol is involved? Which unfortunately it is on many occasions. A lot of people say if the person weren’t drinking they wouldn’t have killed themselves, that they weren’t in the right state of mind. Yes they probably weren’t in the right state of mind but the truth does come out when drinking. And you often do really dumb things that you normally wouldn’t have done. I won’t dig deep in to this issue right now but I’ll touch on something I really think is an issue in many rural communities. Teaching about abstinence. We have been teaching about abstinence for decades and news flash: IT IS NOT WORKING. Let me break it to you parents; your kids are probably drinking. I have seen 9 year olds drunk! It is happening and is going to keep happening. People are going to drink. Period. Just like people are going to have sex. Period. But that is a whole different subject. (Babies are having babies! Clinics full of condoms that people are embarrassed to take. No sex-ed, I could go on and on.) Back to the point, teaching abstinence is not working. People will find ways to drink. So instead of teaching about never ever drinking, lets give them options, and teach people how to do it responsibly if they chose to imbibe. Its okay to have a glass of wine (or 2, who am I kidding) with a meal or when you are with your friends for a special occasion. It’s not okay to chug from a bottle or drink by yourself when you are stressed out or sad. And by all means, don’t drink mouth wash! We must teach people that if they are to drink, don’t drink to get hammered. Drink because a drink tastes good and you are with your loved ones. Then get up and dance!
As you can see, the reason people commit suicide is so diverse and in some instances unexplainable. That is why we need to bring awareness to the issue and have professionals do studies and conduct research. I realize that half of this letter is questions and pretty much all of them are unanswered, but we need to keep asking them so someone with the answers will come forward and we could prevent the next suicide from happening. However, trying to prevent suicide by talking about it is just a slice of the pie.
My friend Scott, who created the Collateral Damage Project, enlightened me. He said my mission, along with his, shouldn’t just be about suicide prevention, it should also be to show people that life is worth living. I love that! His words clicked and made so much sense to me. I want to show people that life is worth living and that we all have a purpose. I am a fairly positive and happy person, sometimes too happy if that is possible, but I just really really love life! Two years ago I actually did a Happiness Project, to see if I could become even happier. Looking back at it, it is funny, but I don’t think you can ever be too happy. There is always room for improvement. People often ask me why I am the way I am and why I smile so much. I guess I do smile a lot because the other day I had a lady tell me to smile a little less or I’d get wrinkles and crows feet! Too late. Those started forming 3 years ago and I love my laugh lines. As for “why I am the way I am”, there are a lot of reasons and I plan on sharing them with as many people as possible.
I am currently going on a tour across North America, thanks to my dear friend Dave, and the first stop to Kugluktuk, Nunavut, Canada was life changing! The tour is called the Popping Bubbles Tour. No no no, I am not going across North America with cases of champagne and literally poppin bubbles in the club. I will leave that to Jay-Z and Kanye; they could really use the work. I call it the Popping Bubbles Tour because I believe we all live in our own little bubbles. Whether those bubbles are never leaving the village or your home, hanging out with only certain people or cliques, not trying a new food, not being open to different ethnicities, religions, ways of life, etc. I want to go around and pop them! I want to help people pop the bubbles that they are stuck in and live life to the utmost fullest. To get out of their comfort zone so we could better understand each other. I think a big reason why suicide happens is that many people feel alone or that they lack a purpose or a belonging. Or we bully and get bullied because we aren’t used to r don’t like being different from others. With Popping Bubbles I hope to help people step outside of their comfort zone and to except differences. Then we can all belong in one ginormous world free of bubbles! Minus the bubble-bath bubbles because I really do enjoy those. Popping Bubbles’ actual mission statement is to obtain a connection between people in remote communities around the world, to assist in bringing communities closer together and to break down the social bubbles that restrict people from accomplishing their personal goals that will lead to a successful and healthy life.
In the tour I also talk about and want kids and adults to dream big, set goals and reach those goals. I want people to have a reason to wake up in the morning and to be excited to leave their pillows. Sorry Folgers, but the best parting of waking up is no longer going to be your coffee in my cup! I love setting goals. Long term and short term goals. Whether that short term goal is to give your mom a hug, pile your grandma’s wood for her, do your homework for an hour or 2, eat an apple, thank your dad, or to take 10 minutes just for you and your sanity, do it. The feeling of checking something off your to do list is such a great feeling. For long term goals, my advice is to do a little bit every day to help you get to your goal. If you want to be a lawyer, read a book. If you want to be a doctor, go stitch up your sister…I’m kidding! But do what you have to do to get a little bit better at a task that you must perfect in order to reach it. Your goal doesn’t have to be about work either. It can be to lower your blood pressure or loose a couple of pounds so you can play with your grandkids. Your goal can be to play or read a book to your daughter, so then when she is 25 she will say, “Thank you mom. You are the best mom in the world!” And you will be if you make it your goal to be the best mom ever. Whatever your goal may be, work towards it just a little every day and trust me, you will feel better.
I recently read Dick Van Dyke’s book, he is one of my role models alongside my grandma, mom, dad and Betty White. He mentions a quote that he believes in and that I now live by. Here it is, “You need three things in life in order to be happy: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” Isn’t that great! I try to incorporate that into my Popping Bubbles Tour because it is so simple, yet so true. Everything I mention above fits into that simple quote. Think about it. You need something to do so you aren’t bored; so you can get your hands dirty and be proud of your accomplishments. So you can feel a sense of purpose. You need something to love because what is life without love and passion? Love a lot! When you are on your death bed I guarantee you won’t be talking about all the money you’ve made, about if you were prom king or queen, or about how pretty you looked in your prime. You will be talking about memories you made with your loved ones and the love you had for this and that. Love is so beautiful! Finally, you need something to hope for. It is fun to make wishes, to hope for them to come true and then to have them come true. And you have to have some faith and desire, faith that people are good, and a desire to be one of those people. I Do Love to Hope!
Saying all that, I am now going to go climb a mountain backwards and break the record for running the fastest mile ever with a cage of rats on my head. My friend attempted it and I know I can beat him! I am pumped and feel inspired and ready to take life by the horns. I really hope you do to, or are now encouraged that life will get better, because it will! In closing, I want to get personal and share my short and long term goals with you. That is another little tip. Tell someone your goals so you have someone to hold you accountable. I tell my goals to a lot of people so that way when I get distracted, which is often….squirrel!!…I have someone to get me back on track. Here are my goals. My goal for the day was to call my sisters (check), to take a shower(fail…that’s okay, there is always tomorrow), and to buy a brush (check). I figure the last two goals will help with my love life, providing I don’t lose the brush. On a more serious note, my long term goal is to put an end to suicide. Writing this article will hopefully bring us one step closer to ending it. If anyone out there wants to help me reach my long term goal, reach out to me. The more the merrier!
I never know how to end letters eloquently and don’t like to say goodbye, so I will simply say thank you so much for taking the time to read this novel. I hope it got you thinking and talking about suicide and that you will speak up and do something about it. We must. Have a great day!
Learning from Each Other & Making New Friends:
Ariel's Popping Bubbles 'Kitikmeot Tour' begins in Kugluktuk (the backdrop for the Blog)
Ariel Tweto's visit to Kugluktuk (March 24 - 27, 2014)
The connection between the Iñupiaq of Western Alaska and Copper Inuit of Kugluktuk goes back several generations . This spring, the connection comes alive. Ariel Tweto is coming to Kugluktuk to inspire people to dream big, and to value the importance of setting goals.
Ariel's visit does come with a message about bullying and suicide prevention. The message is fresh, passionate and down-to-earth, like Ariel; her natural zest for 'giving back' inspires everyone with a new way of looking at ourselves and the world around us ... to find a purpose, to develop a good work-ethic, and to go beyond the confines of living in a self-made bubble.
Ariel's roots are Alaskan Iñupiaq (Inuit); she was born and raised in Unalakleet Alaska. Her Grandmother and some of Ariel's relatives went to residential school. Ariel has experienced first-hand the trials and tribulations of northern living as a woman from a remote, fly-in community. But, Ariel rises above the clouds and truly does fly wild.
Ariel and her family were featured on Discovery Channel’s Flying Wild Alaska for 3 seasons. Ariel is an accomplished athlete in traditional Inuit games and she perfected the “seal hop” on the TV show Wipeout . Ariel has also appeared on David Letterman’s Late Show and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. With several projects on the go, Ariel is currently a host on the FNX/Sundance Institute’s show Native Shorts .
“I'm super excited and flattered to be invited to Kugluktuk” says Ariel. “I can't wait to meet everyone and share my thoughts and stories. I have been very lucky so far in life and I think it has a lot to do with my outlook, the people I surround myself with, my upbringing, family, and my goal setting. I want to share my experiences with others and hopefully inspire people to step outside of their comfort zone and to dream big. I ask myself almost every day 'what is my reason for waking up today?' And most days I have an answer; if I don't have one, I go and find it! I want to help people find a reason to wake up.”
In our work with former residential school students and their families, the Society for Building a Healthier Kugluktuk welcomed the Kugluktuk Radio Society’s help to make this opportunity possible … and, to share something life changing with some amazing people in loving memory of a young radio volunteer, the late Sonia Akana .
Healthy Kugluktuk extends its deepest gratitude to David and Cora DeVos, formerly of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut and now Saskatchewan. Koana Dave and Cora, all of this is possible because of your love and passion for life!