NAN – Basic Needs Must be Met in First Nations Communities

NANTHUNDER BAY – It is a report that echoes what has been told for years. That is the summary of the report by Ontario’s Chief Coroner on youth suicide in Pikangikum First Nation according to Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Mike Metatawabin.

The Deputy Grand Chief says, “The report reviewing the youth suicides in Pikangikum First Nation echoes what the leaders in the north have been working toward for years, the basic necessities of life: clean water, proper housing, good schools and mental health programs. These were some of the recommendations made by the 215-page report titled; The Office of the Chief Coroner’s Death Review of the Youth Suicides at the Pikangikum First Nation 2006 – 2008, which is a detailed and comprehensive review of the deaths of 16 children between the ages of 10-19 as a result of suicide in the years 2006-2008”.

“The report is a substantial piece of research which supports the need for stronger infrastructure in our communities,” said Deputy Grand Chief Mike Metatawabin.

“The basic necessities that mainstream society take for granted like clean water, sewage, schools and housing is not in place in our communities and this is the result. Our youth are frustrated, despondent and suicidal.”

Some of the main recommendations of the report include: INAC should fulfill its commitment to build a new school in Pikangikum; plan for the building and upgrading of sufficient housing units; all homes built in the future are connected to water for indoor plumbing; connect the First Nation to the hydro grid; develop a community Healing Treatment Centre; develop a Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Program for children, youth and adults; and develop an antipoverty strategy for Aboriginal people.

The review began in March 2010 and involved several parties, including health care professionals, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth and child welfare providers. A total of 100 recommendations are offered to try to stem the loss of life of First Nations youth, not only in Pikangikum First Nation, but all across Ontario.

Over the past forty-five days, five youth in Pikangikum First Nation have taken their own lives. If the same per capita number of youth in Thunder Bay were to commit suicide there would be 250 deaths.