Dozens of people in Puvirnituq take challenge to get sober

The Sobering up Challenge, which started on Nov. 14 and runs until Dec. 14, is meant to provide a space where participants can feel supported as they begin their recovery journeys, organizers say.

Various groups in the community are working together to run the challenge, including the Inuulitsivik Health Centre, the northern village and the Isuarsivik Regional Recovery Centre.

This is the second time Puvirnituq has held a Sobering up Challenge, according to Stéphanie Boisclair, who works for Inuulitsivik. Other communities have held similar challenges in recent years as well.

This year’s challenge includes several events for participants, including arts and crafts workshops, healing gatherings, coffee time, and a movie night.

One of the first events on Nov. 14 was an opening ceremony and a walk around the community. Leading up to that, youth from the community made signs with messages of support to the participants.

“All the students participated, making the posters, so that was a really touching moment to have all those people,” Boisclair said.

“They did amazing work.”

At the beginning, 92 people signed up to be a part of the challenge; however, the number of participants still in it in the second week was down to 75.

Dolly Mesher, a community addiction counsellor at Isuarsivik, said the challenge is meant to support people with their recoveries, no matter how hard it gets.

“We’re just thanking them for their honesty,” Mesher said.

“To every participant, even though they relapsed, we’re telling them that they can still come to the evening activities, they can still join in the support that we’re giving.”

The challenge is set to continue until Dec. 14. Participants who stayed sober for the month will earn prizes for their accomplishment.

But both Boisclair and Mesher made it clear that the point of the challenge is not the chance to win prizes.

“It’s about people’s healing journeys,” Mesher said.

“I hope they feel less alone than when they started, Nov. 14.”

Boisclair said that she hopes that the challenge inspires people to not give up hope as they strive towards recovery.

“Recovery is not like a perfect, straight line; some moments it will be more difficult,” she said.

“For me, I wish that the sober challenge is a positive enough experience for them that if ever they relapse or anything, they’ll want to try again and keep open the fact that it can get better.”

Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News