Community Responses to Violence in Holman, Northwest Territory

Alice Kimiksana


Introduction. When we talk about narrative, we often focus on the story and the teller, but rarely on the listener. Yet often the first step in healing is finding someone who will listen to you and truly hear your story. Alice Kimiksana and others in the Canadian Arctic village of Holman, who are concerned about the community’s high suicide rate, understand this basic healing principal very well. They have worked together to create a Help Line—a confidential listening and crisis intervention program—for their community. Kimiksana talks about how in Holman, as in other northern communities, trauma led parents to teach their children not to talk about their pain, their fear, or their abusive experiences, including those that occurred in the residential schools. As a result, even years later, the pain, fear, and hurt can become unbearable, leading sometimes to alcohol and drug abuse, and sometimes to violence toward oneself or others. Educational groups, Healing Circles, and youth groups are starting to help. However, unless there are helpers who will listen when people begin to tell their stories, this first step in healing cannot take place and the cycle of intergenerational trauma will not be broken.

Kimiksana planned on giving her presentation jointly with Holman Elder, Kate Inuktalik, but her copresenter became ill on route to Quebec City. After recuperating in the Yellowknife Hospital, Kate Inuktalik returned home. Kimiksana made sure her friend would be well taken care of, then proceeded to Quebec City and gave the presentation. WHA

  • Alice Kimiksana, Community Health Representative, General Delivery, Holman, Northwest Territory, Canada X0E 0S0

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