You know those magnetic people…the ones who, when they speak, instantly grab your attention and lock you in? It’s usually not because they’re the loudest, or funniest, or most charismatic… it’s their trustworthiness, relatability and realness that elevates their voice from the crowd.
Steven Carleton is a person like that. He’s magnetic, connecting with thousands of young people in Canada’s northern Inuit communities and sharing an important message of hope that he’s experienced in his own life. But his message didn’t come without the great personal expense of pain.
This married, father of three, shared his story with 100 Huntley Street about how he suffered sexual abuse as a young teenager.He turned to alcohol to try and numb his pain. His story is not uncommon in Nunavut, where an estimated 70% of the youth population have experienced similar encounters of abuse; however, unlike many others in Canada’s north, his story did not end tragically.
Nunavut has the highest rates of suicide in Canada, but with increased funding and support for mental health initiatives these numbers are dropping. Thanks in part to Crossroads partners who support him through The Arctic Hopeproject, Steven invests into the lives of young people in churches and schools in Nunavut. He says its suicide prevention through leadership development…and the declining rates of suicide in some northern communities may indicate this increased investment is helping.
Steven credits the redemptive work of the Holy Spirit, Christian counseling and positive friendships with his own healing, and eventual forgiveness of his abuser. He even prayed for the man who hurt him, “Jesus, I pray that he knows You the same way I do.” He says his past has opened doors to relationships with other Inuit teens who can relate to his story.
His message of hope is shared with teens all over Nunavut reminding them they’re valuable and that Jesus loves them, too. Hope is rising in Canada’s arctic. It’s hope that’s magnetic.
You can help Crossroads’ work in Nunavut through the Arctic Hope project. Watch a special 100 Huntley Street on May 17thwhere we will be raising money for this and other initiatives supporting Canada’s Indigenous communities. Or, call us at 1-800-265-3100 to donate today.