ATTAWAPISKAT – Attawapiskat was visited by Federal Minister Carolyn Bennett as part of a continued tour of Northern Ontario First Nations communities. The Minister was joined by federal MP Charlie Angus.
“It is clear that Canadians across the country are seized with the tragic situation facing Attawapiskat. We are also keenly aware that there are other Indigenous communities struggling with similar challenges, said the two parliamentarians in a jointly issued statement. “For the people of Attawapiskat, we are currently working together to respond to the immediate needs of community members and will continue to work diligently to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals most at risk, especially youth”.
“We recognize the importance of the grassroots voices that are speaking up. We want to assure all Canadians we remain focused on the work that needs to continue in support of the community. The voices of the people of Attawapiskat are being heard. We will be visiting the community on Monday to meet with community members and youth leaders and determine with them how to address their immediate needs and chart a path forward”.
“Officials have been working with the First Nation, Nishnawbe Aski Nation and provincial colleagues to provide mental health and community supports to Attawapiskat and the individuals and families in need. We are also working together on longer term solutions to improve the quality of life for members of the community”.
“It is vital to our nation’s future that we work in genuine partnership to ensure better social and economic outcomes for Indigenous Peoples, especially youth.”
There were both private and public meetings during the stop in Attawapiskat. Last week the Minister was in Pikkangikum and Neskantaga First Nations.
“We flew to Attawapiskat to speak to the youth and listen to their hopes for a brighter future,” stated Timmins James Bay MP Charlie Angus. “Canadians have been deeply touched by the struggle of the young people in Attawapiskat, not just the tragedy but also by the courage of the youth. We thank the youth for their openness in a time of extreme stress”.
The Commitments made to the youth in Attawapiskat:
1. Commit to building a youth centre.
2. Establish programming support for cultural and social activities both in the community and on the land.
3. Rehabilitate the local healing centre so it can be utilized as a treatment centre for those in crisis.
4. Host a youth summit in Ottawa for young leader from NAN/Mushkegowuk Territory to bring their concerns to the national stage.
5. Establish a permanent Indigenous youth advisory council for the Minister of Indigenous Affairs.
?6. Work with the community on addressing the terrible housing crisis in the community.
7. Work on longer term health and mental health supports in the community through a working group with the Band and the Province of Ontario.
“The lessons we have learned in Attawapiskat can help in building a more positive relationship with Indigenous youth across Canada,” concludes Angus.