Hotıì ts’eeda is proud to be a supporter of the Inuvik Cancer Support Group. Composed of cancer survivors, the group works to break down stigma and open up conversations about cancer for participants in the Inuvik area. It held several workshops and group activities in the community and hopes to publish a book of stories from cancer survivors and caregivers.
Hotıì ts’eeda supported the Inuvik Cancer Support Group in 2019 through the Strategic Priorities Program as a community wellness project. Funding was used for leaders of the group to attend program evaluation training and the World Indigenous Cancer Conference.
Agnes Pascal and Ruth Wright are the leaders of the group, which is open to those with cancer, survivors, family members and friends. Agnes says that while many support groups are open only to those currently undergoing cancer treatment, her group felt opening the group up was important. “Cancer affects everybody in that person’s circle,” she says. “Everybody needs to talk about it and get support.” The group is a place for participants to share stories, swap coping techniques, and get support from the whole community. “Some people, those who aren’t from here, don’t have a family support system,” she says. “They might be a part of the community but they’re going home to an empty house.” The group aims to create a community of support for those who need it.
Hotıì ts’eeda has supported Agnes and Ruth to attend program evaluation training in Yellowknife, and to attend the World Indigenous Cancer Conference along with their fellow group member Mary Roland and Tłı̨chǫ cancer survivor Cecilia Rabesca. The conference was life-changing, Ruth says, and validated that what they’re doing is both valuable and unique. “There were lots of different groups out there,” Ruth says. “But ours was one of the only ones that was open beyond patients. People kept coming up to us and saying how amazing it was.”
In 2020, Hotıì ts’eeda funded the group to begin working on a Book of Hope project that will bring together stories of cancer survivors from the NWT. Since the announcement of the project in February 2021, there has been a tremendous amount of interest and excitement from the public. Several interviews have already been conducted with people from across the Northwest Territories.
The Inuvik Cancer Support Group encourages all communities to begin similar support groups, and have offered help to anyone interested. Please contact Agnes Pascal for more information about the group.