The National chief of the Assembly of First Nations says Canada needs a national plan to prevent suicide epidemics like the one in Cross Lake, Manitoba.
Perry Bellegarde spoke at a chamber of commerce event in downtown Winnipeg on the importance of closing the gap between indigenous people and the rest of society.
“It’s a bigger issue than just Cross Lake.” Bellegarde told 680 CJOB. “Our young people need hope and inspiration, it’s a life or death situation.”
Bellegarde says investing in young people needs to be a priority and that the country needs more indigenous people around the table in public and private policy.
“Governments have known for a number of years about the high youth suicide rate among our people.” Bellegarde said, “It’s unfortunate it takes a declaration of emergency to get governments to move.”
Bellegarde says indigenous people are up to seven times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Six people have committed suicide in Cross Lake First Nation in the past two months.