My name is Nigel Adams. I am a 26 years young Inuk from Kangirsujuaq, Nunavik.
I speak on the epidemic suicides around Nunavik. More men have ended their lives than women in our communities. I believe the reason is because we do not have a place to speak on our raw emotions without being criticized nor judged.
So many challenges affect our people. Men in our communities are facing false allegations, being bullied throughout their lives, no jobs and unable to support themselves, children are taken away from their parents, alcohol and smoking weed are used to numb their raw emotions.
We would have more men in our communities attending Healing programs if a man with a powerful voice spoke about their own situation.
I myself was someone who used drugs and alcohol to numb their pain. I was trying to get away from reality, living with people in a different community who abused alcohol too. All I heard and saw was violence, anger and pain. There was constant shouting, walls were broken and the television was too. I was truly traumatized.
They would tell me that ‘I was a waste of air, waste of sperm and I was useless.’ I battled with depression and suffered anxiety attacks. This is the reason why I started drinking and smoking drugs in the first place. Once the drugs and alcohol wore off, my pain only grew so I decided to go full sober, cold turkey.
I am glad to be fully sober and I want to encourage others to let go of their bad habits and gain good ones. Mine became weightlifting.
I am determined to make a difference. I've been bullied throughout my entire life for how I looked and how I spoke. Every single day I suffered from bullying, having my ass kicked and going home with a bloody face.
My journey started when I was 3 years old and the other kids told me to ‘go back to where I came from’ and ridiculed me for not being born in the community. Students took the awards I received like Most Improved and Best Attendance from my hands inside the school bus, tore the papers right in my face and spat at me.
In my teenage years, I wanted to end my life and nearly did but was saved by my best friend. He mentored me into believing in myself and I became one of the top athletes around Nunavik. Sadly my best friend ended his own life a few years later.
I am devoting my life to the people who are constantly bullied. My life has been full of difficult obstacles that I had to overcome and I never gave up. I am just getting started.
My grandparents were tortured and abused in residential schools.
The pain that my grandmother endured was passed on to her children, which was then passed down to me, and all of my siblings.
My grandfather’s dogs were slaughtered right in front of him by the government. To us, a dog is a man’s best friend and this left him wounded. The pain that he endured was passed down to my parents.
I call this intergenerational trauma.
My sister, brother and I were taken away from my parents due to false allegations. It took my father eighteen months to get us back, but when he was 19 years old we lost my younger brother.
He was a rebel kid but I focused on teaching him to lead a healthy life. We ran a marathon together from Quebec City to Montreal and did weight training.
I taught him have self-confidence, to motivate the people around him and to be competitive in sports. I am proud to say that my baby brother also kicked my ass at basketball.
When he put his mind to it, Robert Adams was a man who got stuff done. We gave each other positive energy, and not having him here has left a huge hole in my heart.
From all of my experiences I am healing from the suffering. I am now sharing my story to encourage people to have confidence in themselves, even through the toughest times and I want to make a difference in northern communities.
Nigel Adams is a strong voice for his community and has shared a CBC Radio interview he did in August 2018 on the epidemic facing Indigenous people. To reach Nigel email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos courtesy of Nigel Adams