Situation in Aboriginal Communities at Crisis Stage








As It Happens just reported that suicide rates in Nunavut now at 40%…..



I am attaching a link to CBC’s highly popular “As It Happens” program. Just last week, I took part in a televised interview where I advised that youth suicides in Aboriginal communities across Canada had eclipsed 15%.  My numbers were apparently VERY wrong. 

Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s highly regarded program has just announced that in Nunavut that tragic statistic has now passed 40%. I wonder how the news would be received IF that 40% suicide rate pertained to a major metropolitan city (Toronto, Montreal. Calgary etc). 

It does not seem possible that in Canada such a terrible tragedy seems to go unnoticed.  I wonder why there is not a public outcry concerning the neglect that leads to such a staggering statistic.   There is a common thread to all of these avoidable things taking place in Aboriginal communities in Canada.

Added to ongoing conditions in which families are subjected to abject poverty, underfunded educational systems, deprivation of suitable housing and almost non-existent health care, these symptoms stand in stark contrast to provincial governments facilitating the extraction of billions of dollars in timber and mineral resources by foreign multinational corporations on land claimed to be “crown land” adjacent to where these things take place.  In most cases, these fortunes are being made by greedy foreign nationals on lands for which there is no clear proof of ownership by the “Crown”.

I wonder (honestly) how the average Canadian feels about the plight of First Nations, Metis or Inuit people. Is it easy to ignore or so simple to pretend that these things are not happening?  Is it easier because these young people committing suicide are a different race?

Most professionals in the mental care sector will tell you that the principal cause of suicide is loss of hope.  I ask: how much hope can there be for a 14 year old who is deprived of educational equal opportunities equal to what is expected by mainstream kids everywhere else in Canada.  It is a fact that government funds for Aboriginal students’ education is less than 50% of what is spent in other (non-Aboriginal) locations. Education builds hope for better tomorrows. How much hope can there be in the midst of abject poverty in underfunded schools?  I suspect that in a situation where it is painfully obvious that tomorrow will be no better than yesterday, suicide may be enticing.

Why is it so easy to turn a blind eye to the fate of missing young Aboriginal women who have simply vanished?  Why does no one seem to care about all these young people giving up and committing suicide?  Before sending in counselors and suggesting “nice” therapy programs, is it not logical to look after basics first? (Education, Health care, Food and Housing???)

There are real viable answers out there to solve problems such as these.  Those solutions cost money and that money is certainly filing the pockets of filthy-rich foreign corporations.  There are many many examples of this exploitation.  One such example is the community of Attawapiskat where Chief Theresa Spence conducted a heroic strike two years ago.  Just a short distance e from her community, the Dutch corporation operates the world’s largest diamond mine (The Victor Mine) while an entire OjiCree community nearby lies in conditions of abject poverty far worse than any third world country.

When public outcry reaches significant levels, this Dutch Corporation (DeBeers) will periodically toss a few scraps at the trip and then carry on business as usual.  Wake up people.  DeBeers’ reputation in the diamond industry is not worthy of favoritism and public silence only serves to legitimize something that is inherently wrong.

Folks, those kids that are giving up and committing suicide in Aboriginal communities across Canada are more entitled to your support than these foreigners.

For goodness sakes, get in touch with your Federal and your Provincial elected officials and DEMAND that everyone in Canada be provided with equal education, equal health care and decent housing. Who is more entitled: some Dutch millionaire or young Canadian kids?


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