Supporting Feathers of Hope: A First Nations Youth Action Plan
THUNDER BAY – The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) whole-heartedly supports the release of Feathers of Hope: A First Nations Youth Action Plan. The plan was created by First Nations youth living in Ontario’s northern First Nation communities and is an urgent CALL TO ACTION on the issue of suicide.Feathers of Hope calls upon all leadership in Ontario, both First Nations and mainstream, to take a stand, and to partner with them to create safer, healthier communities.
The action plan represents the culmination of a series of Youth Forums that were held in Thunder Bay and Kashechewan last year where more than 160 youth gathered to talk about the their realities and experiences with suicide. It is raw and emotional, and intended to instill hope and create a path forward towards positive change
ONWA commends the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth for spearheading this project and for providing Ontario’s First Nations youth with the supports they needed to do this important work. ONWA especially applauds the youth themselves who are the true changemakers. Their voices made this report possible. They had the courage to share their experiences, and their strengths and beliefs to shape the recommendations. As with this report’s predecessor, Horizons of Hope, the youth envision a brighter future for themselves, and for future generations who will follow in their footsteps.
“This report is a beautiful and honest representation of some very harsh realities. It gets at the heart of the issues facing our yong people today,” says Erin Corston, ONWA Executive Director. “Our youth are struggling with issues that no child, or adult for that matter, should have to endure. Notably, suicide rates for First Nations youth are an alarming 5 to 7 times higher than that of non-Aboriginal youth. This is simply unacceptable and cannot continue.”
The time for change is now. The recommendations provided by the youth in the Feathers of Hope Action Plan are realistic and actionable steps that can move our communities towards positive change for the future of our First Nations youth, their families, and communities.
“ONWA fully supports and stands in unity with First Nations youth and is committed to working together with them, our leadership, and all levels of government throughout the five-year strategy to ensure that real change happens,” says Corston. “Children and youth represent our future, and it is imperative that their voices are truly heard and respected. They have created momentum with this report and forged the path for positive change, but they cannot do it alone. ONWA urges all Canadians to read this action Plan and to stand behind our First Nations Youth in solidarity so that we can all realize a better future together.”