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App named after James Smith Cree Nation veteran who died in stabbing tragedy

The Burns Way is an app geared to veterans and their families to access mental health and wellness services is named after James Smith Cree Nation veteran Earl Burns. Global News file

An app has been named after Earl Burns, a veteran from the James Smith Cree Nation (JSCN) who was one of the victims who died in the 2022 stabbing tragedy.

The Burns Way app will target all veterans and their families across Canada to access mental health and wellness services.

According to the Burns Way website, the demand for services is high, and there aren’t enough mental health professionals available.

“The Burns Way is a new and innovative initiative that will bring together Indigenous, non-Indigenous and Minority partners to improve access to mental health support for veterans right across Canada,” the website stated. “The Burns Way seeks to build trust in the availability of services and puts the veteran in control of their journey to wellness.”

JSCN Chief Wally Burns said it’s an honour that he and the Burns family were involved with this initiative.

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“I think it’ll be a very unique thing, especially with the veterans nowadays … some of the veterans don’t know where they are,” Burns said. “I think this app that is being created (will be) a good thing for them once they know where their comrades are (and) they will know where to look and how to find them through this app.”

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) inspired this initiative and the Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association (SFNVA), which falls under FSIN, approved the funds for the app.

“It’s an honour and a privilege not only for the Burns family, but honouring our veterans,” Burns said. “Those are the ones that fought for our rights and our freedoms. So, without them, we wouldn’t be here. And I’m very thankful for that.”

SFNVA South Branch president Robin Cote said the app is aimed at bridging the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous veterans’ access to mental health programs, services and resources. She said the app being named after Earl Burns is a great honour that she is glad to be part of.

“I know that he stood up for what was going on with the veterans. And … he sacrificed his life also during these attacks that were happening on James Smith Cree Nation,” Cote said. “So, they wanted to name that in honor of him and his legacy of being an Indigenous veteran.”

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The SFNVA and the Royal Canadian Legion signed a Memorandum of Understanding to pledge their support for the app, the website stated.

The Burns Way will be accessible to everyone in Canada and the support and services will be provided in English, French, Spanish and all Indigenous languages. The Burns Way app will officially launch in 2024.

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