The most common reason to seek testing was having sex without a condom (43.6%) or pregnancy (35.4%) while common reasons for not testing were the perception of being low HIV risk (45.3%) or not having had sex with an infected person (34.5%).

Laura Eggertson received a 2012 Michener–Deacon Fellowship for Investigative Journalism award, which supported her travel and the research into this series of articles about suicide by Inuit and First Nations youth.

HIV infection is a serious concern in the Canadian Aboriginal population, particularly among youth; however, there is limited attention to this issue in research literature.

Data were collected through surveys (n = 413) and qualitative interviews (n = 28).

Eleven community-based organizations including urban Aboriginal AIDS service organizations and health and friendship centres in seven provinces and one territory assisted with the recruitment of youth (15 to 30 years).

It might seem unusual to most Canadians that a 21-year-old like Kopak would have to cope with the trauma of suicides of those close to him and his own difficult childhood.

For Nunavummiut, however, it is almost unremarkable, as Nunavut Health Minister Keith Peterson pointed out in a speech earlier this year at a fundraising dinner in Iqaluit for Embrace Life, Nunavut’s suicide-prevention organization.

Peterson took the course himself a few years ago, calling it “eye-opening.” “The more we can identify the early warning signs, the more we can intervene and perhaps save a life,” he says. Although anecdotes abound, there are no statistics about how many lives caregivers trained in ASIST have already saved.

But critical gaps exist in the frequency with which the Government of Nunavut has organized and offered the training, including in school settings.

“We would be eating lunch at home, and when they were finished I would ask them if they were full.

If they said ‘No,’ I would give them my plate, so that they wouldn’t be hungry,” Kopak says.

The family members left behind, like Jimmy’s mother, struggle to understand why. Lots of people say ‘That’s why you lost your son,” ’ Joanasie says.