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NDP MP Charlie Angus cancels trip to UN, flies to Attawapiskat amid suicide crisis

Chief Bruce Shisheesh, left, Minister of Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett, centre, and Federal NDP MPP Charlie Angus, right, meet in the northern Ontario First Nations reserve in Attawapiskat, Ont., on Monday, April 16, 2016. .
Chief Bruce Shisheesh, left, Minister of Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett, centre, and Federal NDP MPP Charlie Angus, right, meet in the northern Ontario First Nations reserve in Attawapiskat, Ont., on Monday, April 16, 2016. . Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Two cabinet ministers will speak at the United Nations in New York City today about the government’s approach to indigenous affairs, but grave conditions on a northern Ontario reserve have prompted the NDP’s indigenous affairs critic to cancel his attendance as part of the Canadian delegation.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould are set to speak at the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues as the government looks to position itself on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

READ MORE: Attawapiskat chief urges meeting with Trudeau after 9 more suicide attempts

Charlie Angus, who represents the Ontario riding encompassing Attawapiskat First Nation, was invited to be part of the Canadian delegation but he has cancelled his trip to fly to the community this morning with MPP Gilles Bisson.

Angus says he was honoured to be invited to the UN but conditions in Attawapiskat continue to be the source of great concern a month after the community declared a state of emergency over its youth suicide crisis.

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He also says necessary resources are still lacking on the ground – an issue he finds shocking because the reserve’s plight has been raised with the government’s most influential players, including officials inside the Prime Minister’s Office.

READ MORE: Emergency aid arriving in Attawapiskat, but what about long-term solutions?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau contacted the chief of Attawapiskat last week and agreed to meet the leader at a mutually convenient time, though no date has been announced.

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