APTN National News
NDP MP Charlie Angus will on Tuesday call for an emergency House of Commons debate on the suicide crisis gripping Attawapiskat and other First Nation communities.
Angus’ office released a letter sent to House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan Monday evening giving notice that the MP for Timmins-James Bay plans to rise in the chamber Tuesday morning and call for the emergency debate.
“There is a suicide crisis among Indigenous peoples in Canada that is hitting our youth the hardest,” wrote Angus, in the letter. “An emergency debate is required in order to allow parliamentarians to address this crisis and show that as parliamentarians we are willing to work together because the days of shrugging off the tragedies or tinkering with Band-Aid solutions are over.”
Angus said in the letter he wants the debate to not only deal with Attawapiskat, a James Bay Cree community in his own Ontario riding currently in the grips of a suicide crisis, but other communities that have been hit by tragedy.
The letter mentioned Pimicikamak Cree Nation in Manitoba which declared a state of emergency last month after suffering through six suicides and 140 suicide attempts over a two month span.
Angus’s letter also mentioned La Loche, Sask., a Dene community that faced a school shooting in January that left four people dead and seven injured.
“This matter simply cannot wait and I cannot imagine anything more important than us showing these kids that as parliamentarians we stand with them,” wrote Angus. “It is our responsibility as parliamentarians and as parents to have an immediate and in-depth discussion about the suicide crisis. As a country, we must start putting these kids first and it needs to start with Parliament. We cannot fail another generation of First Nations children.”
The Commons committee on Aboriginal affairs is also holding hearings on suicide in First Nation communities Thursday. Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon, who represents Attawapiskat and six other regional First Nations, is expected to testify along with Nishanwbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Assembly of First Nations regional Chief Isadore Day.