Feds fund response to suicide on reserve

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016 12:17pm

The federal government will invest $70 million over three years to respond to the health and suicide crisis in First Nations communities across Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement June 13 after a meeting with about 20 Indigenous youth in Ottawa.

And it comes as Attawapiskat First Nation is dealing with an ongoing emergency with suicides in that community and its chief, Bruce Shisheesh, puts pressure on Ottawa for help. Trudeau and Shisheesh met on Monday June 13, along with Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde and former Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence, who went on a hunger strike in 2013 to put a spotlight on First Nations concerns.

The new funding will provide two permanent mental health care workers in Attawapiskat, a 24-hour crisis response line which is culturally safe. The funds will develop four crisis response teams in Ontario, Manitoba and Nunavut where the need is greatest, reads a press statement. Mental wellness teams will grow to 43 from 11. And there will be cultural safety training for existing community workers.