God’s Lake First Nation declares state of emergency amid suicide crisis

A remote Manitoba First Nation has activated a state of emergency as it deals with an ongoing suicide crisis.

“We have been dealing with an ongoing crisis in our community every day this summer,” God’s Lake Chief Gilbert Andrews said in a statement issued through Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) late Thursday.

“There have been four young people who have taken their own lives this summer. This is a crisis that our health staff are dealing with every day and we need help immediately.”

MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in a news release that the organization has asked Canada for help and has also sent a crisis response team to the community of 1,500 located about 1,000 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

“We are planning a community meeting next week to discuss the issue and to work on a plan of action on how we can work together to alleviate these concerns,” Andrews said in the statement. “We look forward to receiving expert assistance from our partners. We must develop a comprehensive plan in partnership with the federal government, otherwise this crisis will continue, and we will continue to experience tragedy and trauma.”

Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan said in an emailed statement to APTN that his “deepest sympathies and condolences go to the family and to all of God’s Lake First Nation. Any loss of life from suicide is a tragedy beyond measure.”

O’Regan said his department is “responding fully to each request in cooperation with MKO and Keewatin Tribal Council,” and that he has “asked officials to work closely with Chief Andrews to provide these immediate supports including mental wellness crisis response professionals, and to plan for longer term services as necessary.”

Indigenous Services Canada also said they will dispatch a youth counsellor from the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre to God’s Lake to support the youth there.

With files from The Canadian Press.


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