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Aboriginal group calls for more mental health funding in wake of Eskasoni First Nation suicides

Cape Breton’s Eskasoni First Nation experiencing mental health crisis
Thu, Jan 17: Nova Scotia's largest Mi'kmaq community is in the throes of a mental health crisis, with multiple suicides in recent weeks, the chief of the Eskasoni First Nation says. Ross Lord has the latest.

An Aboriginal advocacy group is calling on Ottawa to put more money into a crisis line and mental health supports for a Nova Scotia First Nation that has seen a string of suicides recently.

The Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs says Indigenous Services Canada should provide more long-term funding for the roughly 4,500 people who are part of the Eskasoni First Nation and its distress line.

READ MORE: First Nations community in Cape Breton grieving after multiple deaths

Chief Bob Gloade of the congress called the situation “extremely urgent,” almost a week after Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny said multiple suicides have underscored the need for more health-care resources in the Cape Breton community.

At the time, Denny called on all levels of government to step up, noting that more long-term funding is needed for culturally informed mental health, trauma and addictions services.

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The congress is asking for $600,000 in annual funding for the distress line, $150,000 for a clinical therapist, $75,000 for resources to support focus groups for people 20 to 40 years old and $90,000 for suicide prevention training.

WATCH: Dip for Mental Health held in Halifax

Dip for Mental Health held in Halifax
Dip for Mental Health held in Halifax

Eskasoni health director Sharon Rudderham said the community has experienced multiple deaths, both expected and unexpected, intensifying its grief.