Nunavut advocate for men’s mental health honoured at Rideau Hall

Noel Kubluitok Kaludjak receives medal from governor general; other honourees include Alicia Aragutak and David Saint-Jacques

A longtime advocate for men’s mental health and well-being in Nunavut was among 73 Canadians honoured at a Rideau Hall ceremony in Ottawa Wednesday.

Noel Kubluitok Kaludjak, from Rankin Inlet, was awarded the Meritorious Service Decoration medal for his years of advocacy and work for men’s mental health.

“Women and children and families deserve the award,” Kaludjak said in an interview with Nunatsiaq News after the ceremony.

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon hosted the event to commemorate Mental Health Week, which runs May 6 to May 12. She credited the honourees for the work they do to “build a healthier society.”

Others who were honoured Wednesday and have ties to the North include:

Alicia Aragutak was also honoured with a Meritorious Service Decoration for her work as the founder and first president of Qarjuit Youth Council, a non-profit organization that provides youth in Nunavik and Chisasibi programs to promote Inuit culture and traditional educational opportunities. (Photo by Jorge Antunes)

  • Alicia Aragutak of Nunavik, who was presented a Meritorious Service Decoration medal for her work as founder and first president of the Qarjuit Youth Council. She is the former executive director of Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre and current corporate secretary for Makivvik Corp.;
  • Astronaut, astrophysicist and former Nunavik doctor David Saint-Jacques was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Kaludjak, who works for CBC Radio, founded the men’s support network Angutiit Makgiangninga, or Men Rising Up, to build stronger family structures, reduce family violence and heal from the past, according to a news release from Rideau Hall.

More recently, he founded the Better Fathers, Better Husbands initiative in Rankin Inlet, he told Nunatsiaq News.

Kaludjak said that historically, through colonialism, much was taken from Inuit. Their traditional family dynamics changed, and men lost connections to their fathers.

Better Fathers, Better Husbands teaches traditional values and helps men to be good fathers and husbands.

Every child deserves a good father, every wife desires a loving husband, Kaludjak said. He works with four or five others in leading the program.

“I teach men how to raise a family the right way,” he said, adding that the term “head of household” is often misunderstood.

It means a man “provides nurturing and love,” Kaludjak said, and not that the husband or father should be an authoritarian.

Instead, husbands should support their spouse to help love and nurture their children and ensure they have a good home.

“Every child deserves a safe and secure home,” he said.

Kaludjak said he feels that through his work, by supporting men he is directly supporting women and children too.

When women and children come from abusive situations, the men in those families are often an afterthought, Kaludjak said, adding that through his approach, he often goes to the root of the problem.

Women and children will often “come home to the same violent, abusive man. [We] focus on the man’s issues and deal with them and teach them to do better.”

A father’s role is to do whatever it takes to ensure his and his partner’s children grow up healthy, safe and happy, Kaludjak said.

He said there are many young fathers in Nunavut, but most of them do not know how to raise a family. His goal is to change that.