5 more Attawapiskat children attempt suicide: chief
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, April 16, 2016 6:16PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 16, 2016 10:00PM EDT
The chief of the remote northern Ontario First Nation of Attawapiskat says five more children have attempted suicide.
The news comes after 11 people in the community of 2,000 attempted suicide in a single day earlier this month. The incident led officials to declare a state of emergency.
A few days after the attempts, officials thwarted a suicide pact by more than a dozen young aboriginals, including a nine-year-old. The community also recorded 28 attempts in March.
Chief Bruce Shisheesh told CTV News on Saturday that the children were taken to hospital Friday night and were in good condition on Saturday. The children's ages were not immediately clear.
Shisheesh said there is a need for longterm care for youth in the community.
"I have a concern that there's no proper treatment for them," said Shisheesh.
About 18 new support workers from the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, as well as provincial and federal governments, have been dispatched to the community since the mental health crisis began.
Earlier this week, Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins visited Attawapiskat, where he announced that the province would be providing $2 million in funding to help the community. MPs also held an rare emergency debate in the House of Commons to try to figure out a way to help the people of Attawapiskat.
Shisheesh said Saturday that the new workers have been a "big help," but he is still hoping to gain more long-term commitments from Ottawa as well as Queen's Park.
"I'm waiting for the federal government to get on board and help us in the community," he said.
Shisheesh said there are “no proper resources available” for children.
Earlier this week, Keith Conn, assistant deputy minister of Health Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, said Shisheesh told him that some of the youth who attempt suicide are transported out of the community to hospitals in other parts of the province, where they receive psychological and psychiatric assessments, but are often back in the community in just a few short days.
Conn said Health Canada would explore the assessment process and aftercare needs.
In a joint statement put out earlier on Saturday, Indigenous Affairs Minister Affairs Carolyn Bennett and NDP MP Charlie Angus, whose riding includes Attawapiskat, said they planned to visit the community on Monday.
"We will be visiting the community on Monday to meet with community members and youth leaders and determine with them how to address their immediate needs and chart a path forward."
Thinking of folks in Attawapiskat tonight, especially the youth. I look forward to being there to talk and listen. pic.twitter.com/k5U4Rq5npI— Charlie Angus NDP (@CharlieAngusNDP) April 16, 2016
The statement said they are also working together to respond to the immediate needs of community members and will do their best to "ensure the safety and wellbeing of individuals most at risk, especially youth."
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair also called for more resources for the community in a tweet on Saturday.
More troubling news out of Attawapiskat. Proper services needed to save lives now. Hope must be delivered through action today, not tomorrow— Tom Mulcair (@ThomasMulcair) April 17, 2016