January 15, 2018 3:55 pm

Alberta report shows Indigenous youth at greater risk of death and injury

Alberta Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff, left, and Amiskwaciy Elder Francis Whiskeyjack, right, release an investigative review on the suicide deaths of seven aboriginal young people in Edmonton Alta, on Friday, April 25, 2016.


A new report looking into the serious injuries and deaths of young people while in Alberta’s child intervention system has found a disproportionate percentage were Indigenous.

On Monday, Alberta’s Provincial Child and Youth Advocate (OCYA) Del Graff released a summary report of investigation statistics and trends over a five-year period starting in April 2012.

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The report focused on 252 serious injuries and deaths of youth reported to the advocate, and found 53 per cent of the 216 deaths involved Indigenous young people, and 71 per cent of the 35 youth who took their own lives during the five-year period were Indigenous.

READ MORE: 5th report of teen suicide sparks call for change from Alberta youth advocate

The OCYA report suggested risk factors specific to Indigenous youth include the presence of substance use, depression and exposure within their families and communities. It’s critical Indigenous youth feel connected to their culture, community and have a strong sense of identity, the report says.

In October, Graff called for a greater emphasis on family connections and more willingness to provide supports for at-risk teens.

READ MORE: Suicide of First Nations youth shows kids in care must be heard, says Alberta advocate

The report also showed 72 per cent of the 36 serious injuries reported involved Indigenous youth.

The OCYA said the report identifies the importance of thorough and ongoing risk assessment, vulnerability of young people to violence, youth suicide, trauma-informed practice, transition planning and information sharing.

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