Project aims to unite Nunavut residents affected by FASD

Participants attend a workshop offered by Iqaluit’s Piruqatigiit Resource Centre where they sewed and listened to an elder speak about the importance of about kindness, empathy and caring. (Photo courtesy of Piruqatigiit)

“We wanted to create something that captures the fullness of people’s lives and zeroes in on the struggles but also the support”


By Thomas Rohner
Special to Nunatsiaq News

An Iqaluit-based non-profit wants to change how Nunavummiut think of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD.

The Piruqatigiit Resource Centre is putting together a book with photos submitted by those affected by FASD in the hope of building a supportive community across the territory.

“This project is a way to unite Nunavummiut impacted by FASD … a way to normalize and humanize life with FASD,” said Jennifer Noah, executive director of the resource centre.

The centre was established a year ago to support families and individuals living with the disability. It provides training to mothers, families and organizations on supporting those with FASD.

The life-long syndrome affects those exposed to alcohol as a fetus while in their mother’s womb. The symptoms range from challenges with memory retention to impulsive behaviour.

But Piruqatigiit faces an uphill battle, Noah said, because the syndrome is far more common than most people realize.

“FASD exists everywhere alcohol exists, we just don’t know about it,” Noah said.

About four per cent of the Canadian population is probably affected by the disorder, but that number is likely to be much higher in remote and rural areas.

Another challenge is to counter the negative messaging that often accompanies FASD, said Noah.

For example, Noah said women are often blamed, but that is neither fair nor productive. There could be contributing factors like the impacts of trauma, unknown pregnancies and abusive relationships that see women forced to drink.

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