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First Nation community looks to ‘heal together’ after recent suicides

Kingsclear First Nation holds healing week after recent suicides and attempts
WATCH ABOVE: A New Brunswick First Nation held the closing ceremonies Thursday for a weeklong support and education series dedicated to healing together after recent suicides and suicide attempts. Jeremy Keefe reports.

This week members of the Kingsclear First Nation have been tackling a difficult subject head-on, one that hits very close to home.

“We’re losing people in our community to suicide,” says Michelle Sacobie, Child and Family Services director. “We need to start to address what’s going on, start healing.”

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The 500-person community felt the effects of suicide three times in the past 16 months, beginning with the highly-publicized death of former RCMP Const. Ron Francis.

When two more members made attempts on their own lives this past holiday season, Sacobie knew they needed to take action to reverse the trend.

“We knew that something needed to be done,” Sacobie says.

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Healing Week was launched on Monday, providing support as well as prevention education.

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Andrew Solomon, Kingsclear’s Mental Wellness coordinator, says the recent suicides have sent shock waves through the entire tight-knit community.

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“We care about our people and we’ve been struggling for many years,” Solomon says. “So it hurts us deeply whenever we lose somebody to suicide or drug and alcohol addictions.”

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Solomon says Healing Week has provided the community with the ability to heal together and that they have become stronger because of it, even with the news of a former member’s death coming just days ago.

“He was a band member here of Kingsclear First Nation and we were affected by that too.”

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Kingsclear’s residents are all very well known to each other, and whether related or not they feel like their neighbours are their brothers and sisters.

“When one person in this community passes, whether its from natural causes or suicide, the entire community feels the loss,” says Sacobie.

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“We’re a big family.”

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Organizers hope to make Healing Week an annual event in Kingsclear.