Matawa Chiefs and Ontario Regional Chief Engage Solutions Discussion

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Matawa Chiefs and leaders gathered in Ginoogaming First Nation - Photo by Lakota Perreault
Matawa Chiefs and leaders gathered in Ginoogaming First Nation - Photo by Lakota Perreault

Solutions on Youth Suicide Sought

Ginoogaming First Nation – Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day spoke at the Matawa AGM on August 2 2017, One of the critical crisis facing First Nations in Ontario, and in Canada is the issue of youth suicide. The Ontario Regional Chief spoke of the importance of seeking solutions. One of the proposed paths forward is wellness retreats where Chiefs and Councils would gather, and seek personal healing for many of the issues facing in many instances not only the leadership but the community as a whole.

Chief Day outlined that these retreats would enable Chiefs and Councillors to seek solutions and to help create community wellness plans for their communities.

Matawa First Nations hosted their annual general meeting in Ginoogaming First Nation this week. The issues discussed included job training, housing, the issues of education, mental health, and the crisis with youth suicide.

The critical issue for many communities is the ongoing mental health crisis. There have been many, too many youths from northern communities committing suicide. On Tuesday evening, just as the meeting was gathering for dinner came word of a suicide in one of the communities. This somber news was yet another indication that the ongoing crisis needs to be addressed.

The Ontario Regional Chief outlined his discussions with Chief David Yellowhead from Nibinamik who came to the AGM with several of the youth from his community. Natasha, one of the youth addressed the meeting on Wednesday explaining the issues behind the youth suicides which she has been impacted by.

Eabametoong Chief Elizabeth Atlookan spoke on the issues of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how through residential schools and the ongoing problems, that the Chiefs and Councils in many cases are left struggling to help make a difference.

“The government is just starting to wake up,” stated Chief Atlookan. “It is just now we are starting to acknowledge the issue and its magnitude. We need a mighty intervention. We are wearing ourselves out”.

“Proper mental health assessments are needed now”

Chief Day in addressing the Chiefs spoke of the need to take politics out of the issue of youth suicide.