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‘I’m scared, I can’t sleep’: northern Saskatchewan communities call for help

‘I’m scared, I can’t sleep’: northern Saskatchewan communities call for help
WATCH ABOVE: Northern Saskatchewan communities are calling for governments' help.

It’s been one week since Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation issued a state of emergency and, according to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), there is believed to be more than 10 attempted suicides in the community in that time.

“I’m scared, I can’t sleep anymore at night,” Makwa Sahgaiehcan Chief Ron Mitsuing said on Thursday in Saskatoon.

“My people are in grief right now, and they’re scared.”

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READ MORE: Makwa Sahgaiehcan chief ‘disappointed’ about lack of long-term suicide prevention plan

“In the last four months we’ve had four suicides, we can’t count how many attempts,” said Makwa Sahgaiehcan band Coun. Tommy Littlespruce.

“Just imagine, every other day there’s an attempt, sometimes two or three in one night.”

Mitsuing spoke at the legislature in Regina on Wednesday, but the provincial government has yet to approve a long-term plan for the northern communities.

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READ MORE: Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation declares state of crisis after 3 recent suicides

“If the provincial government works with us then we’ll work with them,” Mitsuing said. “It’s going to show the kids that we can work together, it’s going to lift them up.”

“We need to just try and get things under control now, (and) provide immediate relief,” said Rural and Remote Health Minister Warren Kaeding.

“Then, while we’re doing that, also talk about what some of the medium and long-term plans might be.”

READ MORE: ‘Brighten their day’: suicide crisis sparks card-writing campaign to First Nation

The FSIN has already developed a suicide prevention plan, but needs help from both the provincial and federal government for funding to help their workers who are overwhelmed.

“The prime minister’s always talking about reconciliation, always talking about nation-to-nation relationships; well prove it, help us with our kids,” FSIN second vice-chief David Pratt exclaimed.

“Look at the premier of Saskatchewan, he’s always talking about keeping Saskatchewan strong. Well, how can you make Saskatchewan strong when your fastest-growing demographic, First Nations, are taking their own lives.”