The “Reducing the Incidence of Suicide in Indigenous Groups — Strengths United through Networks” or RISING SUN initiative was designed as a follow-on activity to the Canadian-initiated mental wellness project of 2013-2015. While the Canadian-initiated project focused on best practices from the literature and community-based interventions, RISING SUN is designed to take the next logical step: creating a common, science-based set of metrics to evaluate the key correlates and outcomes associated with suicide prevention interventions across Arctic states. 

RISING SUN is an initiative under the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council, coordinated by the Sustainable Development Working Group, and led by Canada and collaborating countries.

Focus Groups

The objective of these focus groups is to further the findings of the first phase of the research and build on the collective understanding of what types of suicide prevention interventions are working, why they are working and how we know they are working; this allows for a deeper discussion of what is not working in communities, the challenges, and the changes necessary to achieving wellness. Through these focus groups, we revisited some of the results of the 2013-2015 Arctic Council project on mental wellness and validated what we heard about promising practices. These discussions also enabled us to start to explore some measures that can be used to evaluate the success of suicide prevention interventions in Northern communities.

Developing the Evidence Base and Identifying Promising Practices

This project consists of four programs that serve as the base to identify elements of best practices to be scaled up:


The findings from the case studies are reported in the Arctic Council report: Sharing Hope. Circumpolar Perspectives on Promising Practices for Promoting Mental Wellness and Resilience

Next Steps

We will be building on indicators identified in the scoping review and exploring the feasibility of developing indicators for suicide prevention programs and interventions in circumpolar contexts. Our aim is to synthesize the findings of the scoping review with expertise from community programmers, policy makers, clinicians, and researchers to develop a list of indicators that are valid, reliable, relevant, useful, and adaptable in circumpolar Indigenous communities.




A regional overview of suicide rates and suicide attempts in circumpolar regions: Suicide in circumpolar regions: an introduction and overview.


We conducted a structural analysis of the different premises for health promotion and preventive work examining differences between the Nordic welfare state and North American health policy in Arctic regions. This analysis will focus on how a given structure facilitates or challenges the implementation of initiatives to promote mental wellness and prevent suicide. 


A scoping review is underway to highlight best programming practices in circumpolar regions: A Scoping Review of Indigenous Suicide Prevention in Circumpolar Regions. A modified Delphi Process will be carried out in 5 regions [NWT, Nunavut, Sapmi, Greenland, Labrador] to build on the scoping review.


Mason Mantla, Anita Daniels and George Bailey from the Tlicho CART team held workshops on community-based methods and best practices at SANKS in Norway and in Utshoik, Finland June 9–17, 2014. One of these workshops, a film workshop with Sami youth, resulted in film short, The Thinking Man of Utsjoki.” For more information, visit the CART Facebook page


Kǫ̀ts’iìhtła  (“We Light the Fire”) Music & Creative Arts Workshop

This project originally stemmed from the need to address high rates of suicide in northern Indigenous communities. Identifying music and arts as important elements of resiliency and taking a strengths-based approach, MPH Practicum student Sahar Fanian and Tlicho Social Programs Coordinator Mason Mantla with Indigenous co-facilitators and ICHR staff put together the Kǫ̀ts’iìhtła  (“We Light the Fire”) project. Aiming to empower youth to explore critical issues facing their community and their lives and to find solutions together using the arts, the Kǫ̀ts’iìhtła project was a five-day creative arts and music workshop for youth which ran from August 11–15th, 2014 in the community of Behchokǫ̀, NT. Youth participants were given ownership of the topics and issues to be addressed at the workshop as well as workshop outcomes. 

Find out more about the Kǫ̀ts’iìhtła project’s activities, goals, outcomes and results:

  • Report: Evaluation of the Kǫts’iìhtła  (“We Light the Fire”) Project: building resiliency and connections through strengths-based creative arts programming for Indigenous youth

This project was led by the Tlicho Community Action Research Team (CART) and the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research (ICHR) assisted with project activities and facilitated student support from the University of Toronto. 

Workshop facilitators included: 

  • George Bailey, Filmmaking 
  • Charlotte Overvold, Visual Arts
  • Casey Koyczan, Music Production 
  • Travis Mercedi, Music Production
  • Tiffany Harrington, Spoken Word
  • Sahar Fanian, Photography


While gender will be evaluated within the case studies, a sub-group of the project team who are involved in land-based programs synthesized the current research on best practices to improve existing land-based programs for men/boys in circumpolar regions. In November 2014, this review and collaboration resulted in the successfully funded Movember Foundation project “Pathways to Mental wellness for Indigenous boys and men: Community-led and land-based programs in the Canadian North.”