Naujaat Centre for Athletic Achievement - Aarluk

First Year Master's Studio // Winter 2017

One of the most infamous facts about the Inuit people is their poor mental health coupled with their high rate of suicide. The Canadian average for number of suicides per 100,000 people is 10.90. Compare that to Nunavut’s rate of 71.00 suicides per 100,000 people and one can see that this number is quite shocking. The goal for my intervention in Naujaat is to improve the current resident’s mental health and implement a program that will ensure future residents do not suffer from similar obstacles.

“Cultural discontinuity and oppression have been linked to high rates of depression, alcoholism, suicide, and violence in many communities, with the greatest impact on youth”

A large issue that the Inuit people have been forced to deal with is their free time. Traditionally as nomadic people, the Inuit spent most of their time traveling across the land looking for areas to sleep on and animals to hunt. Due to the government imposed settlement of the Inuit, they no longer spend their days moving across the land. Southern food has also made its way to the north, eliminating the need for Inuit to hunt their own food. These two changes have given the Inuit a significant amount of free time. As communities in the north are limited in size there are few activities to occupy residents. As noted in the quote above, this has unfortunately lead to crime, alcoholism, depression, and suicide.

“Damage to the land, appropriation of land, and spatial restrictions all, then constitute direct assaults on the person”

A goal of my project was to reconnect the Inuit with the land. It is an essential element to their spiritual thinking that has been lost over the last number of decades. This connection is mainly attempted through the landscaped path that surrounds Naujaat. This path would have multiple different nodes that would allow the Inuit to reconnect with elements from nature and the land. The main node along this path is the sport centre.

“The presence of mass media even in remote communities makes the values of consumer capitalism salient and creates feelings of deprivation and lack where none existed.”

The sport centre is a building that the community of Naujaat could go to at any time to play, practice, and compete at different sports. It is built to accommodate all sports that are part of the biennial Arctic Winter Games (AWG), as well as all ancillary tasks associated with hosting the games. Having a dedicated sport centre in Naujaat would hopefully entice the residents to participate in sport and become passionate about it. All other communities that participate in the AWG would come to know Naujaat as the leader in Arctic sports and the residents of Naujaat would have something to take pride in and work to maintain.

“To a large extent, traditional healing draws its efficiency from its rootedness in a local community with a shared social life.”

In addition to the pride that the people of Naujaat would feel from becoming a leader in Arctic sport, the mental health benefits from the physical exercise would be invaluable. It is well documented that physical activity improves mental health. Being able to strengthen friendships through sport would also improve the mental health and the sense of community within Naujaat.

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