Monday, April 11, 2016

State of Emergency in Attawapiskat
courtesy of Christopher Kataquapit

The news is alarming out of northern Canada this week. Acting Chief of the Cross Lake First Nations, Shirley Robinson, has declared a state of emergency after a rash of suicides and attempted suicides. The Globe and Mail reports there have been 140 suicide attempts in the last two weeks. Eleven people attempted suicide this past Saturday night, the oldest 71, and the youngest only 11.

The most urgent problems are reported to be poverty, over-crowded and inadequate housing (see above, where as many as fifteen people might be crammed into one house), and issues arising from past abuse. The community has an 80 percent unemployment rate.

Band councillor Donnie McKay reports the community of 8300 is traumatized and needs immediate help from provincial and federal governments. When the band asked the provincial Minister of Health for assistance last month, it resulted in one worker being sent in for one eight hour shift.

Chief Robinson is asking for a team of mental health workers, child psychologist, family counsellors and after-hours workers, to relieve the exhausted handful of staff on reserve. She says every day spent waiting for relief, more people are at risk. 

The article states, "Frustrated residents occupied the generating station in 2013. They said their traditional lands are regularly transformed into a floodway and none of the promised economic development and employment programs has materialized.

Premier Greg Selinger personally apologized a year ago for the damage caused by the hydro development to Cross Lake’s traditional land, way of life and cultural identity.

After that apology, Robinson said there was a sense of hope, but that quickly vanished.

“There is lots of despair.”"

The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs is expected to travel to Cross Creek in the next few days. 

One more example of the two-tiered system that exists in Canada. That such a substandard way of life, which cannot help but breed hopelessness and despair, still exists is simply unacceptable. 


CHINTA PUXLEY The Canadian Press
as seen in The Globe and Mail


  1. Sadly, Sherry, for the past 149 years, Canada's aboriginal people have been trade as vermin, which to eradicated, at all cost. Just another part of our colonial past that continues to live, decades longer than it should. In many way, their struggle, resonates with my own, and the lack of willingness, to commit the need resources, to address these historic wrongs.

  2. I saw this in the news and was appalled. My heart is with those people and I pray. Still, I feel so helpless. I never heard of this type of epidemic depression. But I understand the oppression that caused it. I know your heart is broken too.

  3. this reminds me of our farmers desperately seeking relief in death because of faulty government policies...sigh...

  4. These is so, heart wrenching~ I pray for those who have lost loved ones. I pray someone helps those with no hope~

  5. unquestionably the most heart wrenching story coming out of humanity. this desperation causing people to just give up their lives because of no light, no hope. i pray for them in my own spiritual way. i will cry for them. oh spirit of the univers please come hold our hand

  6. Sherry, I read this on a Facebook story. It is a horrible situation!


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