WINNIPEG - A northern Manitoba First Nation is declaring a state of emergency following the suicides of nine youths between the ages of 15 and 19 in the span of 14 months.
Tataskweyak Cree Nation is asking for immediate help from government, the RCMP, and anyone else who can provide it, with what it calls a mental health crisis. Chief Doreen Spence says community members need more support for mental wellness, not only to remedy the crisis but also to provide long-term wellness outcomes.
Spence says the situation is desperate at Tataskweyak, a 2,600-person community two hours east of Thompson, and they’ve requested mobile crisis units from the Keewatin Tribal Council and indigenous advocacy organization Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.
“I am extremely saddened to hear about the situation in Tataskweyak Cree Nation,” MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee says. “My thoughts are with the community as they grapple with another loss of a young person due to suicide.” Settee says the First Nation needs a crisis drop-in centre, 24-hour mental health counselling services, and strategies to protect young people from getting involved in drugs and bootlegging.
Young people who need to talk with someone can call Kids' Help Phone 24 hours a day at 1-800-668-6868, but can now text “CONNECT” to 686868 as well if they’d prefer to talk with someone by text message.