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Young Inuit leaders optimistic about future, despite Nunavik’s bleak suicide statistics

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Lucasi Iyaituk wants to be mayor of his home community Puvirnituq one day. The 18-year-old says it with a smile. But he’s not joking. He wants to lead.

Iyaituk is co-ordinator of the youth centre in Puvirnituq, a village of 1,800 on the Hudson Bay coast hit hard by suicide in recent weeks. He proudly proclaims he’s the youngest co-ordinator in all of Nunavik, the Inuit territory of Quebec.

He’s also one of the few delegates under the age of 30 at a two-day emergency meeting in Nunavik’s administrative capital of Kuujjuaq dealing with the recent spate of youth suicides in the region.

As many as 15 young people have taken their own lives this year, including 11 in Puvirnituq.

Iyaituk spends his time at the youth centre, keeping the kids and teens who drop in busy.

“We play ping pong, tournaments, Inuit games,” said Iyaituk, who also plays the traditional Inuit drum.

“I love being with the kids. They make me happy, and they are important,” he said.

“They’re the future leaders.”

Children play in Kuujjuaq, while at the Kuujjuaq Forum, Inuit leaders discuss how to curb Nunavik’s alarming youth suicide rate. More recreational opportunities for young people are among the suggestions. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

Iyaituk is very serious about being mayor — he wants to make changes, such as making more activities for youth available.

There were Halloween activities planned at the youth centre for Oct. 31, but Iyaituk says he had no choice but to be present at this meeting.

The pen-ink markings on his face that he applied for this day of meetings are not for Halloween, however: They are in the pattern of tattoos worn by Inuit elders, worn to honour his Inuit ancestry.

“My people are … important,” he said. “I don’t want anyone to [commit] suicide, and I want to help them a lot.”

He says when he goes back to Puvirnituq he will tell other people about what he learned.

“I’m going to tell them that they are not alone, they are loved, and make them happy.”

Portrait of suicide and services

“I have more hope, especially after today,” said Robert Watt, the president of Kativik Ilisarniliriniq, the regional school board, who called the meeting last month after the death of a child still in elementary school.

“It seems that many of the community members… are eager to go back home and work with their communities and come up with their own strategies.”

Among the suggestions that came out of working groups over the meetings are:

  • Sharing more information about mental-health issues.
  • Providing more treatment for victims of sexual abuse.
  • Doing more traditional activities with youth on the land.
  • Putting in place anti-bullying strategies.

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services presented a portrait of the suicide situation.

It found that suicide rates in Nunavik from between 2004 and 2017 had gone up drastically from 2009 to 2013, after decreasing over the previous four years.

Those most prone to commit suicide are between the ages of 13 to 18, followed by those 19 to 34. And far more men than women decide to kill themselves.

‘We have no choice but to be optimistic’

“It’s not striking because I’ve been in this field for the past five years. These issues, they’ve been talked about a lot in previous years,” said Alicia Aragutak, who chairs Nunavik’s suicide prevention committee, which has been operating since 2009.

“A lot of the issues [around suicide] are repetitive, and they’re coming back.”

Aragutak says she feels a lack of communication between her committee and decision-makers in Nunavik is a problem.

Alicia Aragutak is the 27-year-old chair of Nunavik’s suicide prevention committee. She feels optimistic about the future and feels solutions are at hand. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

She says there are suicide-prevention resources, but that information doesn’t always make it to the communities. She says the people who work for the various health, education and other organizations are spread thin.

“They do a lot, a lot of work, and they’re such committed people,” said Aragutak. “All these major organizations are so busy, and they’re in so many committees with different issues in Nunavik, sometimes that message from the grassroots level [is lost].”

The suicide prevention work is a challenge, but it’s one Aragutak relishes.

“It forces you to become hybrid: what are new ways to look at? What are we missing? How do we improve?” said Aragutak, who is 27. “It puts you in a position where you have to really try new things and really start networking.”

The suicide prevention committee’s report detailed some of its work with various organizations to reduce access to means to commit suicide:

  • Working with the Kativik Regional Police Force to distribute trigger locks to firearms owners.
  • Having local housing bureaus remove poles from closets and asking people to install locks on hunting cabins.
  • Working with health centres to promote safe storage of medications.

Despite the current crisis, Aragutak says she’s optimistic she and others at the meeting will find a solution to end the hopelessness and despair that lead so many young Inuit to suicide.

“The population in Nunavik is so young. It’s really, really time to invest in these younger generations,” said Aragutak, who is mother to a 20-month-old.

“I’m part of the younger generation, and we have no choice to be optimistic. The will is there and I’m just very, very hopeful good things will happen from here.”

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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