Resolute Bay has seen its share of hardship and tragedy.
To help the community of close to 200 residents along the road to wellness, motivational speakers were brought in Jan. 22 to 27.
There was a singing and songwriting session to create a tune about Resolute Bay, led by vocal artist and musician Jeffery Straker. There were healing-through-art sessions with artist Danielle Vachon. There was also cooking, a fashion show and self-esteem building exercises.
“After they were done, a lot of people almost had tears. So they’d done a really good job,” Mayor Tabitha Mullin said of the guests.
Vachon can attest to the level of emotion.
“They were crying and thanking us and so excited about it,” she said. “Resolute was kind of like being home. They were all so fun and welcoming, just warm-hearted and excited.”
While a lot of fast friendships were made, there were also reflections on hurtful moments in residents’ lives.
“There’s a lot of really hard topics and subjects. We brought a lot of light to that,” Vachon said.
She has visited a number of Nunavut communities and has more on her agenda with Influencers Motivating Influencers, a group that aspires to educate people about mental illness, deter bullying, build leadership skills and help others set goals. She has also done work in Nunavut through Paint it Forward.
Vachon said a return to Resolute was discussed and she’s planning an artist-in-residency program as well as demonstrating airbrushing techniques, which could lead to a mural in the school gymnasium.
At one point, close to 120 people – more than half the community – gathered in the gym.
“It was massive, which was great,” Vachon said, adding that she has taken some local artwork to her home in the Edmonton area to sell. The proceeds will go back to the community for wellness initiatives, she said.
One “really cool” adventure Vachon experienced in Resolute was a dog sled trip with Devon Manik. She praised Manik’s entrepreneurial spirit and for keeping the tradition of dogsledding alive. She didn’t see any polar bears during the trek, although the animals are known to wander in and around Resolute frequently.
“They were there, though. (Residents) said, ‘Oh, there’s a bear,’ but I missed it every time. I don’t know how close I want to get to this bear,” Vachon laughed.
A women’s night and a men’s night were held but many of the Wellness Week activities – sponsored by GN’s Wellness division, the Hamlet of Resolute Bay, the Co-op, Bell Let’s Talk and First Air – were geared toward children.
“It did a lot for them,” Mullin said. “It was very busy for a while.”
Although that pace of activities won’t be sustained, the hamlet recently hired Mark Amarualik as recreation coordinator, the mayor noted, a position that was vacant for quite a while. After-school activities are now in place too.
“So the kids are getting used to the routine now and doing stuff. We’re trying to keep them busy,” Mullin said.