Suicide crisis prompts Island Lake chiefs to call for equal access to health care


Leaders of 4 distant Manitoba First Nations are calling on the provincial and federal governments to do extra to guarantee equal access to health care and social providers to cope with rising psychological health and addictions points.

Chiefs from Island Lake First Nations held a information convention Wednesday with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Assembly of First Nations and Keewatinook MLA Ian Bushie (NDP) to call for extra crisis and long-term care choices, together with a hospital, within the communities of Garden Hill, St. Theresa Point, Wasagamack and Red Sucker Lake. 

“All Island Lake neighborhood members and management are day by day attempting to assist the people who find themselves struggling a lot that the danger of suicide is a continuing menace,” Scott Harper, Island Lake Anishininew Okimawin grand chief, mentioned on the information convention.

“Canada should present Island Lake First Nations with substantive equality within the health and social providers that different Canadians have.”

He known as on each ranges of presidency for extra rapid crisis helps and long-term funding, together with the development of an addictions remedy centre and hospital to serve the roughly 18,000 individuals who stay within the 4 communities.

“An pressing technique is required to tackle colonization’s intergenerational traumatic results, mixed with many years of inadequate sources and funding, which has created a pandemic of struggling,” he mentioned.

The calls come as Red Sucker Lake mourns the lack of two individuals to suicide and 17 makes an attempt previously couple of months. One of those that died was a 16-year-old who was discovered at a playground.

The fly-in neighborhood, positioned about 530 kilometres northwest from Winnipeg, has been below a state of emergency for two weeks.

The college at Red Sucker Lake First Nation in northern Manitoba closed for a time late final month as college students and employees mourned the demise of a pupil there. (Submitted by Sam Knott)

Red Sucker Lake Chief Samuel Knott mentioned there may be an pressing want for extra programming for youth in the neighborhood, as well as to a spread of addictions and different fundamental care choices.

Most individuals do not even have clear, potable water and sewage disposal of their houses, he mentioned.

“Chaos, psychological health issues, meals safety, insufficient housing have households in our First Nation in Third World circumstances and don’t make the phrase ‘hope’ one thing Red Sucker Lake First Nation would even say,” Knott mentioned.

“The authorities distrust, empty guarantees, false hope, damaged treaties have us involved, cornered with an absence of help and funding required to be at par with the remainder of society.”

Red Sucker Lake Chief Sam Knott has expressed concern for younger individuals in his neighborhood amid an increase in suicide makes an attempt. (Warren Kay/CBC)

Garden Hill Chief Charles Knott additionally mentioned medicine, alcohol and an absence of issues to do are contributing to challenges that might be addressed with applicable helps and extra strong native health care.

“A pair years in the past, it wasn’t like that, however these days these new medicine which have are available our neighborhood, it is taking up,” he mentioned. “We need assistance as a result of our youth are struggling. They don’t have anything to do.”

There are 4 nurses working in his neighborhood of about 4,000, and that wants to change, he mentioned.

His neighborhood additionally wants help for its native constable policing program, which he mentioned is presently not funded by authorities.

“This is the place we want assist probably the most is to police our communities,” he mentioned.

St. Theresa Point Chief Elvin Flett mentioned the present system of flying sick individuals to Winnipeg is not working and is costing the federal government extra in the long term.

When the NDP was in authorities, they supported a proposal to construct a neighborhood hospital, however that provincial help disappeared as soon as the Progressive Conservatives had been voted in, he mentioned.

“I’m very disillusioned in the truth that the PCs have not stepped ahead to tackle the sort of wants that we’ve in our area,” he mentioned. “Why are the governments ignoring the cry?”

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Cathy Merrick calls on the Manitoba authorities to do extra to help Island Lake First Nations communities. (Warren Kay/CBC)

AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick instructed Manitoba is leaving the difficulty to the federal authorities and “forgetting concerning the 18,000-plus” residents in Island Lake.

AFN regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse mentioned Island Lake communities want access to the identical care afforded to Canadians who do not stay in distant areas.

“Eighteen thousand individuals and not using a hospital, that may by no means fly wherever in Canada,” Woodhouse mentioned.

Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents northern First Nations, mentioned the restricted providers and boundaries to care in distant areas are associated to the historical past of colonialism.

“The system has perpetuated laws and insurance policies which can be racist in nature, and so they have to admit that,” he mentioned. 

“If we wish to discuss reconciliation, do away with the racism within the system. It’s harming our individuals, it is killing our individuals, and we should cease it.”

Manitoba Mental Health Minister Sarah Guillemard mentioned the province is prepared to work with the federal authorities to give you some long-term options to points raised by the First Nation leaders.

“We’re completely satisfied to be part of the federal authorities in these discussions to have a look at ways in which we may also help help the communities, particularly within the rural and northern areas the place these struggles actually are taking maintain,” Guillemard mentioned at a separate information convention.

She mentioned an outreach crew from the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre has been in touch with Red Sucker Lake and plans to go to the neighborhood to supply help.

CBC News has additionally requested for remark from Indigenous Services Canada.

First Nations leaders call for crisis help in distant areas

Leaders of 4 distant Manitoba First Nations are pleading for assist. Two individuals have died by suicide and 17 others have tried within the final two months in northern Manitoba. Grand Chief Scott Harper says the neighborhood wants a hospital to help the 18,000 individuals residing within the space and higher psychological health helps.

If you or somebody you understand is struggling, here is the place to get assist:

Anyone needing assist can contact the Hope for Wellness Help Line, which supplies rapid, toll-free phone and online-chat emotional help and crisis intervention to all Indigenous individuals in Canada. 

It’s obtainable 24/7 in English and French, and upon request in Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut.

Call the toll-free assist line at 1-855-242-3310 or join to the net chat at

Other obtainable sources embrace:


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