Three weeks seems like a lifetime ago these days. Like a distant memory. It's not unusual to ask ourselves "that happened three weeks ago?" when confronted with a reminder. It's understandable really. We all live very busy lives. Lives inundated with the latest American election headline, the Jays wins or losses, some video showcasing some obscene yet really innovative invention we'll never use. A recipe filmed in process from above so you can see exactly how it's done. Some tiny cute creature crowding your social feeds. Your friends Instagram photos from their trip to Iceland and about one millions ads.
So let me remind you about something I can't forget about, from three weeks ago. Something that makes my heart ache and my mind race. Three weeks ago a man in a hat (you know the man) opined during an intermission, in what may have been one of Canada's most iconic rock'n'roll moments. He said the following:
"We're in good hands, folks, real good hands. He cares about the people way up North, that we were trained our entire lives to ignore, trained our entire lives to hear not a word of what's going on up there. And what's going on up there ain't good."
He was referring to our PM, Justin Trudeau and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people in need of our attention.
So why write about this three weeks later? Why have I been hanging on? Truth is, because I was ashamed. I didn't really truly understand. Sure I'd seen the headlines about the suicide crisis in Attawapiskat, and Pimicikamat. I'd heard about the inquest into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. I knew of the song "Goodnight Attawapiskat" and "Now the Struggle has a Name". I hadn't pieced it together. Not really.
Working on No Surrender Hockey Challenge I was shocked and upset about the suicide crisis in Attawapiskat and Pimicikamat and other reservations. Now I hear even social workers are having a hard time working within the communities. Upon further review it's unconscionable how this could happen in any community.
According to CBC's The National & Stats Can this century 27% of all Inuit deaths in Nunavut have been by suicide. Suicide rates among Indigenous people are between 5 and 6 times the national average. Young adults 15-24 are 5-7x more likely to take their own lives. Young females seem to be highest at risk although males are not even close to ok.
How ashamed I felt only grew as I looked into the litany of potential causes for these needless deaths. The list included poor socioeconomic conditions, poverty in general, racism (did you know the CBC had to turn off its comments section of articles on Indigenous people because of the comments they received), sexism and the legacy of colonialism along with the devastating impact of the residential school system.
The worst part of all is an apathy that would allow this to go on for decades. I was frustrated before that Canada hadn't had a National Strategy for Suicide Prevention but I'm maddened by that fact that if this was happening in other Canadian communities we would've done something. There would have been action. There would have been outrage.
Not knowing what to do I wrote this. I wrote this for you. The No Surrender posse. The folks who consistently come together for their community. I wanted you to hear it three weeks later. So we don't forget. We're not alone and neither are they. I hope Justin Trudeau is the guy. If he is I'll support his efforts.
So thank you to the man in the hat, for waking me up. (you know who you are).
For insights and statistics on suicides of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people go to: http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/thenational/national-conversation-attiwapiskat-suicide-crisis-1.3544041
For some fast facts on the suicide crisis in Attawapiskat go to: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/attawapiskat-four-things-to-help-understand-the-suicidecrisis/article29583059/
For background on the history impacting First Nations, Inuit and Metis in Canada and Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada go to: http://nctr.ca/assets/reports/Final%20Reports/Executive_Summary_English_Web.pdf
For background information on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1449240606362/1449240634871
For tidbits about Tragically Hip songs "Goodnight Attawapiskat" and "Now the Struggle has a Name" among others visit: http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/tragicallyhip/
Google and read its all there if you look.
Founder of No Surrender Hockey Challenge.