Northern TikToker shares reasons to stay alive, Inuit style

Annie Buscemi, creator of Ullaakkut – a TikTok page focused on serving daily gratitude with an Inuit specific twist. (Photo courtesy of Annie Buscemi)

Annie Buscemi admits that "it's the simple things in life" that keep her going.

Buscemi, 23, from Iqaluit, started making TikToks as a way to help herself through her anxiety.

Since losing her job back in September, Buscemi created a virtual diary, called Ullaakkut (meaning good morning) as a way to practice gratitude.

This was an opportunity for Buscemi to highlight the lack of mental health resources in Nunavut and share Inuit-specific reasons to stay alive.

 

"It has really changed my life, waking up every morning and starting off my day" making these videos, says Buscemi.

From lack of sunlight, extreme weather conditions and now COVID-19, Buscemi says "sometimes it's hard to even get out of bed" and it's only getting worse.

Buscemi struggles with anxiety and an eating disorder.

She explains that sometimes people with anxiety can't make the call or reach out for help, it's a fear she says she has had to overcome.

Buscemi remembers being on a waitlist for eight months, patiently waiting to see a counsellor and many of them either weren't qualified or simply couldn't relate to her issues.

"It makes a huge difference to have someone understand you," and "it's important to be represented."

At the time of publishing, there are 60 cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut.

According to a 2016 Statistics Canada report, Nunavut has one of the highest suicide rates in the country with rates among First Nations people, Métis and Inuit being significantly higher compared to the non-Indigenous population.

The report confirms that suicide "rates were highest among Inuit, specifically, adolescents and young adults."

In comparison to their neighbouring territory, the suicide rate in the NWT has been on the rise for years.

Buscemi says her influence has grown - people in her small community recognize her now.

"It's a beautiful feeling," she says "spreading a good message makes me happy."

"There are so many beautiful reasons to be alive" and everyone needs to be reminded of them sometimes, she says.

In her short 47 days of being on TikTok, she says, "I've grown a lot, and I've changed."

"I'm kind of talking to myself. I rewatch my videos over and over and over again," she says "I'm my biggest fan."

She never expected this level of attention.

Buscemi wants the government to focus on housing, poverty, food insecurity and inflation when combating suicide.

Now Buscemi is worried about the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in the territory.

"For such a small population with very minimal health resources, it's a little bit terrifying," she says.

Buscemi is now selling Ullaakkut merchandise to help support herself.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. Mariah is excited to begin her journey and career in Yellowknife, NWT, and get involved with the community. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at mariah.caruso@cklbradio.com