THUNDER BAY – Youth Suicide is a sad and troubling issue across Northwestern Ontario.
Former AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo said, “First Nations across the country are deeply concerned for the people of Neskantaga First Nation and the AFN fully supports their call for action and attention to address their urgent needs.” “It was around this same time last year that the community reached out for help in dealing with the tragedies of youth taking their own lives and to address critical community needs. I echo the words of Chief Moonias who says that they have lost too many lives already and there needs to be more awareness about the situation of First Nations in a country as rich as Canada. I stand with all the citizens of Neskantaga in solidarity in their efforts to protect their youth. We need immediate action to address the crisis in the community and as a society we need to take a hard look at the root causes of these problems and work together to create lasting solutions.” Right now there is a declared State of Emergency in Neskantaga First Nation. Clyde is from Neskantaga First Nation, and now lives in Thunder Bay.
Solutions in Traditions
“Our young people are the most powerful voices in our nations, and they need and deserve every opportunity to achieve success. By empowering the youth to lead, to support their voices and actions, we will lift our nations up in a way that we will all benefit from the strength and success of our peoples and communities.” Clyde Moonias says, “We need to take action, we don’t need money as a settlement, we need support”.
Moonias has seen first hand the impact on a family of youth suicide. He found his brother who had committed suicide and had to cut him down.
There are solutions. Moonias says, “Youth suicide is a big issue facing our communities. Our leaders say they care and support us, but where is the action? Us youth are the future of tomorrow and we need to empower ourselves to deal with the issues of life.”
Get Help! There is Hope!
Kid’s Help Line: 1800-668-6868
Talk to a friend, a family member, an Elder, or a NAPs police officer, there are always better choices. The Oji-Cree community of Neskantaga First Nation, located 433 km north east of Thunder Bay, continues to be plagued by a housing crisis, the existence of mould in most family homes, an exceptionally high unemployment rate, a “boil water advisory” that has been in place for almost 20 years, limited access to affordable and nutritious food, lack of adequate health and mental health services, youth having to leave their community to attend high school, and high rates of prescription drug abuse. These circumstances are inter-connected and are factors in the number of youth suicides.