ATTAWAPISKAT

CP

Attawapiskat's Suicides Need More Than Superficial Solutions

Dealing with the current crisis isn't enough, because this crisis is unending. As the Attawapiskat teen who confronted Bennett pointed out, our First Nations are living in third-world conditions, and that needs to be dealt with first. We need to build livable houses with access to drinkable water. We need to hire permanent local mental health care workers and addiction specialists. We need to get adults jobs, be it developing local resources, producing and selling traditional goods or telecommuting to office jobs. As Bill Yoachim of the Snuneymuxw First Nation on Vancouver Island told CBC when asked about the suicide crisis: "We need to create space, whether through sport or culture or recreation, to make people feel alive."
CP — The Attawapiskat First Nation declared an emergency in October, 2011, because 25 families were living in housing too flimsy to face the harsh winter. The story made national headlines after a HuffPost Canada blog about the crisis by NDP MP Charlie Angus, whose rising includes Attawapiskat, went viral. In response, the Red Cross raised $300,000 from Canadian donors and flew in emergency supplies for families in the most precarious conditions. Federal and provincial emergency officials are refitting a local healing centre as a temporary shelter for the winter. And the federal government has purchased 22 new modular houses, with the hope that they'll be in place later this winter. At the same time, however, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has accused the band of mismanaging federal money and not producing adequate results for the $90 million transferred to the community over five years. He has ordered a full audit and placed administration of the band's finances in the hands of a third-party manager — a decision that angered band leaders and sparked a legal fight. - With a file from The Huffington Post