Manitoba MP calls for ‘urgent help’ for First Nations in crisis

The MP for Churchill Keewatinook Aski is joining a growing number of voices urgently calling for help for First Nations in northern Manitoba.

During question period on Wednesday, Niki Ashton said First Nations are in crisis and the government must “deliver urgent help” to a number of communities.

“In God’s River, Gods Lake Narrows and Oxford House drugs are destroying people’s lives,” she told the House of Commons.

Chiefs said the drug problem is fueling a rash of violent incidents in these communities.

There have been nearly a dozen murders in northern communities and just this week, RCMP reported the death of a young woman in God’s River.

According to police, officers were called to the community on the evening of March 19 after receiving a call about an injured 18-year-old woman.

RCMP said she had been transported to the nursing station with life-threatening injuries and was pronounced dead shortly after.

On Tuesday, a 17-year-old woman from the community was charged with manslaughter. She was remanded into custody and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday in Thompson Provincial Court.

According to RCMP, the deceased and the accused were known to each other.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 10 other homicides in First Nations in Manitoba and two nations have declared states of emergency relating to drugs, violence and deaths.

Ashton blames the lack of housing, the high cost of living, and the unemployment crisis and demanded action from the federal government.

“First Nations leaders and members on the ground are clear, they have never seen it this bad,” Ashton said. “What will it take for the government to act on the humanitarian crisis that is destroying families and First Nations right now?”

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu responded to Ashton saying she agrees more needs to be done.

“Recently I visited Gods Lake and I can tell you that the member is right, that we have to do more together to protect members of that community and all communities, Mr. Speaker, struggling under the weight of a colonial system that has not invested in their prosperity,” said Hajdu.

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