Saskatchewan First Nations come together to reignite a passion for life in youth

Larissa Burnouf
APTN National News
“Sometimes when I feel sad or mad I want to hurt myself.”

That’s what Cherise Harris, 11, from Pelican Lake First Nation, told a suicide prevention conference in Saskatoon.

Cherise is among a growing number of youth in northern Saskatchewan who have contemplated suicide.

Lac la Ronge Indian band Chief Tammy Cook Searson rushed emergency mental health support into her community in October for that reason.

Six girls between the ages of 10 and 14 have taken their own lives in northern Saskatchewan in the last few months.

“There’s been a lot of work done and extra people have been hired,” said Searson. “There’s been a lot of different events that have been organized in the communities to give hope to the youth in our community and also assessments have been done in our schools.”

First Nations agencies and communities are now coming together to reignite a passion for life for hundreds of youth from across the province.

Bringing in suicide survivors and leaders in the community to talk to the youth in the hopes of helping as many as possible.

“There is such a situation and I know at a lot times we are dealing with it in isolation, we just wanted to bring everybody together,” said Treena Wynes, executive director at Agency Chiefs Child and Family Services.

The response from the over 500 youth in attendance was that more gatherings like this one are needed in the north.

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