Four deaths by suicide and 22 attempts by youth this summer have prompted God’s Lake First Nation Chief Gilbert Andrews to declare a state of emergency.
“We have been dealing with an ongoing crisis in our community every day this summer,” said Andrews in an Aug. 29 press release sent out by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), a political advocacy group that represents about 30 Northern Manitoba First Nations. “There have been four young people who have taken their own lives this summer. This is a crisis that our health staff are dealing with every day and we need help immediately.”
The community, located about 1,000 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg and with a population of less than 1,000 people according to the 2016 census, is dealing with a methamphetamine crisis as well as addictions to alcohol and other drugs.
“We are planning a community meeting next week to discuss the issue and to work on a plan of action on how we can work together to alleviate these concerns,” said Andrews. “We look forward to receiving expert assistance from our partners. We must develop a comprehensive plan in partnership with the federal government, otherwise this crisis will continue, and we will continue to experience tragedy and trauma.”
MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said his organization was sending its mobile crisis response team to the community on Thursday.
“MKO is deeply concerned about this crisis and is working closely with God’s Lake at this time,” said Settee. “We have called on officials with the government of Canada to ensure the community receives proper resources such as qualified therapists.”