Greenland is often enough associated with unspoiled wildernesses, vast glaciers and a fascinating Inuit population. However – and without outweighing the nation’s majestic environment and indigenous inhabitants – the world’s largest island is also struggling with a relatively high suicide rate and addiction-related problems amongst its original inhabitants. One man is determined to find a holistic solution to these social challenges. His name: Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq. A shaman, healer and storyteller born in a Greenlandic family of traditional medicine men, he has travelled the world and has addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on environmental matters and diversity. By means of his foundation, Ice Wisdom, he now plans to establish a healing centre in Greenland. The purpose: treating the above-mentioned diseases and psychological illnesses by using both modern and traditional healing modalities.
“The idea is for us to coexist in balance with one another”, says Angakkorsuaq while clarifying the choice of turning to a combination of allopathic and alternative medicine. “The crux of all that matters should always be diversity”.
When many Western experts claim that they don’t truly know the reason behind the Inuit population’s high suicide rate and addiction-related issues, Angakkorsuaq explains that during Danish colonisation, the Inuit developed a deep sense of identity loss. In this respect, he refers to the Danish government’s set of policies that were implemented in the early 1950s with the aim of ‘civilising’ Greenland and making the island ‘worldly’.
The policies – years later defined as failures – comprised many components such as re-education programmes and Danish language courses. “Language is one of the highest forms of identity”, Angakkorsuaq clarifies, “and at a certain point people were deprived to learn their Eskimo languages and, as such, be in touch with their culture and traditions. All of this has lead to demoralising effects that have been passed on to the subsequent generations and that are visible at present”.
As the years went by, Angakkorsuaq got more and more determined to tackle this feeling of collective pain at the root. Hence, the idea was launched to open Aanakasaap Illua, which is Greenlandic for Grandmother’s Home.
The 200-bed complex, will be build on Qaqqarsuaq, a mountain in the island’s former administrative division of Vestgrønland.
Constructed in a co2 neutral system, the centre will also encompass an agricultural zone. “There is a two-fold reason to this”, Angakkorsuaq says. “On one hand we will prompt the development of sustainable and self-sustaining indoor farming. In addition to this, our patients and visitors will be given the opportunity for tending to the vegetation. As the plants prosper and thrive, so will our patients”.
A team of experienced local and international professionals will be overseeing and monitoring the project which is initially focused on Greenlanders but by no means limited to locals only.
More than that, Aanakasaap Illua strives to be a place of inspiration and regeneration for people from around the world offering a sanctuary to nature lovers and visitors with an affinity for holistic healing and revitalisation. In this regard, Angakkorsuaq explains: “I have travelled the whole world in order to know hat the answer to many socio-political controversies currently affecting our planet is unification. The time has come for us to start reaching out to each other and recognising each other’s values”.
Named Kalaallit Nunaat – which means The Land of the People – Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, encompassing Denmark proper, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Greenland, however, is not part of the European Union. The island nation was granted home rule in 1979 and in 2009 self-government was established.