SASKATOON – The federal government is committing $2.5 million
over the next two years to support mental-health services and
suicide prevention programs for Indigenous youth in Saskatchewan.
Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller and Chief Bobby
Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations made the
announcement in Saskatoon.
A number of young people in several Indigenous communities in the
province have taken their own lives in recent months.
The Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation at Loon Lake, for one, has
raised concerns about what it has called “cluster suicides” _
three deaths over three weeks, including that of a 10-year-old girl.
While in Saskatchewan, Miller met with Makwa Chief Ronald
Mitsuing and members of the community, about 360 kilometres
northwest of Saskatoon.
Chief Louis Mercredi of the Fond du Lac First Nation says he is
tired of “Band-Aid” solutions and wants more long-term help.
“That $2.5 million that’s been announced, that’s not enough,”
the chief of the northern fly-in Dene community said Thursday. “We
should be getting more. The province should match this $2.5 million
“There should be no dollar figure on human lives.”
Another leader said her First Nation’s immediate concern is to
support families after a number of tough weeks.
Chief Margaret Bear of the Ochapowace First Nation in southern
Saskatchewan said her community has lost four young people to
suicide since Sept. 14.
“We are a community, a nation, who have lost … our warriors
and young men,” she said. “Today we are hurting.”
Indigenous Services Canada says it has provided more than $32
million this fiscal year for mental-health services and supports to
First Nations youth in Saskatchewan.
Warren Kaeding, the province’s minister responsible for rural and
remote health, said Saskatchewan has a number of initiatives to try
to address concerns over self-harm.
Government officials are continuing to work towards identifying
suicide issues and strategies, he added. (CJWW, The Canadian Press)