Some tattooing is taking place at Northern Fancon in PG this year, and one of the pieces that’s being worked on comes with a powerful message.
Sandra McArthur’s son Quinnton passed away from the act of suicide back in 2015, and her arms are a mosaic of art, not only in remembrance of him, but also to advocate for men’s mental health.
McArthur said the turtles that she was getting tattooed on her left arm also helped with her healing.
“The main reason for getting a tattoo is not so much in remembrance for my son that passed away from the act of suicide, but the healing portion that I get from it. And the symbolisms of each of the tattoos I have each have something specific to in regards to his suicide, and the act of suicide, and the animals that bring healing.”
The tattoo artist from Haida Inkk doing the work on McArthur, Gregory Williams, or Kaajuu Gaaya, found some common ground with McArthur, as his daughter also passed away.
Williams said his daughter Kaiya passed away five years ago, and would have been 19 this year.
McArthur said her first tattoo was a semicolon, symbolizing that her son’s story wasn’t over.
“We do know that specifically with men’s mental health, the majority of our men are taught not to speak about how they’re feeling. If they can’t be seen, it must not be broken, and unfortunately that was my son.”
“The stigma starts at a young age. Boys, you have to be strong, don’t talk about how you feel, don’t cry. So all these pressures that I as a mother, I can also say that I did that, because of the way that we were also brought up,” she added.
McArthur also has a stingray on her right arm that has an image of her son on it.
“I was on a journey beforehand, learning and getting educated on mental heath, but nothing threw me deeper in the waters than his own death. And from that experience, and to this day, a big portion of my life is surrounded about raising awareness, enhancing the compassion that I also need and also have, and enticing others to do the same.”
“When we are quiet, stigma wins. And so this is something I have been vocal about since his passing,” added McArthur.