January 23, 2019 2:15 pm

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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