PM Trudeau agrees to meet with Attawapiskat chief in Ottawa

APTN National News
OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has invited Attawapiskat Chief Bruce Shisheesh to meet in Ottawa about the suicide crisis that has gripped his community.

“I am deeply concerned with the ongoing situation in your community, and with the urgency and gravity of this in mind, I am unhesitatingly willing to accept your offer to meet,” wrote Trudeau in a letter dated May 5.

The prime minister’s letter is in response to one Shisheesh penned on May 3 inviting Trudeau to meet to discuss the suicide crisis that has gripped his community for more than a month.

“I am writing to you today on a matter of life and death,” Shisheesh wrote in his letter. “Your intervention is immediately required.”

In early April, Shisheesh and the Attawapiskat council declared a state of emergency because of the high number of young people who have either attempted to take their own lives or discussed it.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s letter to Attawapiskat Chief Bruce Shisheesh.

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The federal government responded by providing mental health workers and Minister of Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett flew to the community to meet with a youth council, elders and leadership.

Bennett also promised to fund a youth centre and provide more money for programs.

“As Minister of Youth and Prime Minister, I am agonized to see the number of suicide attempts by young people in Attawapiskat, and I wish to express my sincere support for the families and the community members who are affected by this tragic situation,” said Trudeau, in the letter.

Pressure to sit down with Shisheesh mounted after Trudeau flew to Shoal Lake 40 last week for a tour of the community. Chief Erwin Redsky told APTN National News  he encouraged the prime minister to meet with Shisheesh to talk about the crisis.

According to the letter, no date has been set.

“My office will very shortly be in contact with you in order to arrange a meeting in Ottawa at a mutually convenient time.”

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