April 19, 2017 3:38 pm
Updated: April 19, 2017 3:39 pm

Mental health support funding for northern Saskatchewan First Nations

Federal government announces $1.2 million in funding for mental health support in two northern Saskatchewan First Nations.

Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press

The federal government is putting up $1.2 million over two years for more mental health support in two northern Saskatchewan First Nations.

Health Minister Jane Philpott says the money will allow expanded culturally safe mental health and addictions services for the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and Lac La Ronge Indian Band.

READ MORE: Northern Saskatchewan once again struggling with youth suicide

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Philpott made the announcement in La Ronge where six girls between the ages of 10 and 14 from the community and surrounding area committed suicide last fall.

“We are committed to working nation-to-nation with First Nations leaders and support their efforts to foster hope among their youth, their families and communities,” Philpott said in a release.

“These investments represent another critical step towards ensuring that long-term, sustainable mental wellness support is in place for all First Nations in Saskatchewan.”

READ MORE: Candle light vigil held in La Ronge after sixth youth suicide in northern Sask.

Philpott said the federal government recognizes the seriousness of mental-health issues facing indigenous people and is committed to supporting them.

“In my many discussions with First Nations across Canada, I have heard loud and clear that community-driven solutions are key to enhancing the mental, physical and spiritual health of communities,” Philpott said.

Last fall, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the suicides in northern Saskatchewan a tragedy and said the federal government is committed to working with indigenous communities.

READ MORE: Trudeau calls northern Saskatchewan suicides a tragedy as fourth youngster dies

The chiefs of the two First Nations say they welcome the funding, but there is a long way to go to address the crisis faced in their communities.

Tammy Cook-Searson, chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, said the crisis has taken a toll on the community.

“The trauma runs deep and there is still much more work to do ahead,” Cook-Searson said in a statement.

“As we work on our larger mental health strategy, we look forward to continuing our discussions with the federal government to advance our plans for a wholistic wellness centre that can have lasting change for this generation and those to come.”

With files from Global News

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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