Wednesday, April 13, 2016
The Emergency Debate and the Children of Attawapiskat
I watched the emergency debate in the Commons on the crisis in Attawapiskat, and I heard some fine speeches.
Especially the one from Charlie Angus.
No one can understand "how a country as rich as Canada can leave so many young children and young people behind," said Charlie Angus, whose sprawling northern Ontario riding includes the deeply troubled and isolated aboriginal community.
And let's hope that something good comes out of it because the situation couldn't be worse.
And this cry for help from the children of Attawapiskat couldn't be more desperate.
A suicide pact by 13 young aboriginal people, including a 9-year-old, has been thwarted on a remote First Nation in northern Ontario where local leaders say they’re so overwhelmed by the suicide crisis that extra police officers have been called in from nearby communities.
Anna Betty Achneepineskum of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation said the youths were overheard making a pact to kill themselves on Monday and police brought them to the local hospital in Attawapiskat for an evaluation.
But the hospital was already treating other patients who had attempted suicide in recent days and couldn’t see all of the new arrivals, Achneepineskum said, so about half of them temporarily waited in jail for treatment, the only other place where officials felt their safety could be secured.
Or more depressing...
For where else but in a native community in Canada could so many children be trying to kill themselves? Or have to wait for treatment in a jail.
Still, I'm happy to see that help is arriving.
And also glad to see that a psychiatrist who has worked in other aboriginal communities, believes like I do, that in addition to everything else we need to find a way to make life more interesting and livable for Attawapiskat's young people.
In addition to mental health funding, Wieman said various levels of government should also be looking for other ways to address “an emotional distress that has built up” in indigenous communities.
That could mean simple things such as more recreational activities or even computer labs on reserves so that youth can feel connected to the outside world, she said.
Because while boredom can't be quantified, when combined with poverty, hopelessness, and drug abuse, it can lead young people into a depressive state, and one suicide can lead to another.
So in that regard, I found this really encouraging.
For who better to tell us what is needed than the young people themselves?
And this tells me that all hope is not lost...
They're not giving up so we can't either, and should do all we can to make sure their voices are heard.
In Attawapiskat they held a candlelight vigil last night
Let the young people of that suffering community help lead us all out of the darkness and into the light...
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