Advertisement

Manitoba First Nation declares state of emergency after recent deaths, self-harm incidents

Click to play video: 'Mental health crisis prompts Tataskweyak Cree Nation to declare state of emergency' Mental health crisis prompts Tataskweyak Cree Nation to declare state of emergency
WATCH: The Tataskweyak Cree Nation in Manitoba has declared a state of emergency over a series of deaths and self-harm incidents recently. David Akin spoke with Chief Doreen Spence about the mental health crisis in her community, and the help the First Nation is pleading for – Jul 14, 2021

A First Nation in northern Manitoba, “desperate” for help after the suicides of nine young people in the last 14 months,  has declared a state of emergency and asked federal and provincial authorities for urgent help to deal with a mental health crisis in the community.

The Tataskweyak Cree Nation has asked for “immediate” supports for mental wellness and long-term solutions for its community.

“We’re in a desperate situation here right now,” Tataskweyak Chief Doreen Spence said in a telephone interview from her community Wednesday afternoon. “We don’t want to lose any more youth. And so we we have to we need anyone out there that is willing to help our community contact us in terms of what they can support.

Read more: Indigenous group continues blockade over COVID 19 concerns in northern Manitoba

Story continues below advertisement

The community, which is connected by road to Thompson, has approximately 2,600 people living on reserve, with another 1,300 living off reserve.

 

Click to play video: 'Canadian government providing mental health supports to Indigenous communities: Minister Miller' Canadian government providing mental health supports to Indigenous communities: Minister Miller
Canadian government providing mental health supports to Indigenous communities: Minister Miller – Jun 3, 2021

The First Nation said that they have reached out for mobile crisis teams from the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) and the Keewatin Tribal Council, as well as requested help from Health Canada, Indigenous Services, the RCMP and the province of Manitoba.

“Everybody’s hurt and in disbelief of what’s happening to our young people,” Spench said. “And this is a wake up call for us, too, that, you know, we have to do something to help our people

The MKO, an advocacy organization which represents several northern Manitoba First Nationsl including the Tataskweyak Cree Nation, expressed its support in a press release Wednesday.

Story continues below advertisement

“I am extremely saddened to hear about the situation in Tataskweyak Cree Nation. My thoughts are with the community as they grapple with another loss of a young person due to suicide,” MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in the release.

Click to play video: 'Advocate calls for legislation to address high Indigenous suicide rate' Advocate calls for legislation to address high Indigenous suicide rate
Advocate calls for legislation to address high Indigenous suicide rate – Jul 13, 2020

Nine youths between the ages fo 15 and 19  have died by suicide in the community over the past 14 months and an unspecified number of others have attempted suicide and self-harm, the band said.

The community is asking for around-the-clock mental health counselling, a crisis drop-in centre and a commitment to protect young and vulnerable people from illicit drugs and bootlegging.

Read more: Over 160 graves found at former residential school on B.C. island, First Nation says

Spence said that there have been several other factors behind the community’s crisis aside from drugs and alcohol. The disruptions from a year of isolation due to COVID-19 lockdowns and the recent discoveries of unmarked burial sites at former residential schools across Canada have had a major impact on the community’s mental health, Spence and other community leaders said.

Story continues below advertisement

 

Click to play video: 'Residential school survivor speaks out after discovery of more graves' Residential school survivor speaks out after discovery of more graves
Residential school survivor speaks out after discovery of more graves – Jul 13, 2021

The federal department of Indigenous Services is aware of the requests from Tataskweyak Cree Nation’s chief and council.

Two mental health therapists were providing support to the nation during regular working hours and the community has primary care nurses available during the day and for emergencies on weekends and evenings.

 

Sponsored content