By Lisa Gregoire
June 20, 2016 – Ask Lucasie Amamatuak why he prefers to think about living rather than dying — you could ask him that in three different languages, by the way — and he might talk about a lot of things.
The 18-year-old boy from Salluit, Nunavik, is excited about going to Collège Montmorency in Laval, Que., this fall, for instance. Maybe to university after that.
He’d probably tell you he’s teaching young kids French as part of a summer literacy camp in July and August.
When he’s not doing that, he’ll be filling his lungs with oxygen instead of nicotine when he goes out running every day. He says it gives him strength in different ways and he likes talking about healthy living.
A musician and singer, he did research on the healing powers of music to combat trauma and stress as an alternative to some other ways people cope — with alcohol and drugs. He thought that was interesting and he could tell you all about it.
And if, after all that, you’re still listening, he’ll tell you about his grandpa Okituq Amamatuak who mostly raised him.
An elder who taught Lucasie how to hunt and take care of himself, Okituq also showed him how to be happy and satisfied in life. Why a job is important.
When Okituq died a few years ago, Lucasie lost a mentor he really trusted. And he lost sight of his hopes.
He started hanging out with his friends, skipping school. His grades suffered, but he didn’t care.
“I hung out with my friends because I thought that would make me feel better,” Amamatuak said. “But I saw that my future was getting darker.”
Nunavik communities such as Salluit have suffered an unusually tough winter and spring this year. If the trend continues, this could be one of the region’s worst years for suicide.
And yet, there are youth such as Amamatuak who recently ran a half marathon in Hawaii, won the Quebec Aboriginal science fair with a project about music and healing, and who just graduated from École Ikusik School in Salluit as one of two fully trilingual students — the other being Louisa Yuliusie.
So what’s his recipe for success?
Amamatuak doesn’t hesitate: his parents.
READ FULL ARTICLE: “Nunatsiaqonline 2016-06-20: NEWS: Nunavik Graduate Credits Parents For Success In Bleak Times“. Nunatsiaqonline.ca. N. p., 2016. Web. 24 June 2016.