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Youth suicide crisis in the north addressed in special report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Tuesday, 05 December 2017 15:37

Corey O’Soup speaking to media in La Ronge. Photo courtesy of Braden Malsbury.

The province’s children’s advocate uses the thoughts and feelings of youth in the north to lay out a blueprint to deal with the Indigenous youth suicide crisis.

Corey O’Soup unveiled his special report at Churchill Community High School in La Ronge this morning.

The suicide rate for First Nations boys between the ages of 10 and 19 is six times higher than non-Indigenous boys, while the rate for girls is 26 times higher.

In October 2016, six young Indigenous girls in northern Saskatchewan committed suicide. For the past year, the advocate has been meeting with youth in the north to get their perspective and to find solutions.

O’Soup says after meeting with more than 1,000 youth, several themes emerged contributing to youth suicide. Among them, bullying, lack of emotional support, substance abuse, lack of physical safety and lack of activities. Most of the youth also felt their voices were not heard, or they were reluctant to share their real feelings with adults, choosing instead to pretend everything was OK, even though they were dying inside.

With the voices of the youth, he has come up with an action plan to deal with what he calls an extremely urgent situation that requires substantial and immediate help from the local community, the province and the federal government.

O’Soup calls on the province to develop a suicide prevention strategy with the FSIN and Metis Nation. He says the federal government must also be involved, and end the healthcare funding inequity for Indigenous children. Corey O’Soup also wants to be at the table, representing the voice of Aboriginal children. He says Indigenous children and youth deserve nothing less.

"We youth need to be loved. We need to feel like you guys support us, but we need you to understand we are scared of how you will react. We are scared of how you will feel if we tell you how we truly feel," said a youth participant in the report.

The advocate's report was also a topic of discussion during Question Period at the Saskatchewan Legislature Tuesday afternoon.

The NDP opposition pushed the Sask. Party Government on the report and Rural and Remote Health Minister Greg Ottenbreit says the government is ready to adopt the recommendations in the report.

“We accept all of the advocate's recommendations as the pertain to health,” Ottenbreit told the Assembly. “We are fully committed to working with the FSIN, the MN-S and the federal government to implement the changes that are needed.”

Chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, Tammy Cook-Searson, welcomes the report.

"Our health staff and partners have made concerted efforts over the past year into responding to our community needs related to the youth crisis. However, we recognize that these calls of action will set out a more coordinated and sustainable approach that will make a difference in preventing the crises from happening again," said Cook-Searson.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 December 2017 15:37
NDP pushes province on HIV/AIDS treatment coverage PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joel Willick   
Tuesday, 05 December 2017 15:36

Screen shot of Ryan Meili addressing the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.

An NDP leadership hopeful is pushing the Saskatchewan Government to fund all HIV treatments.

During Question Period on Tuesday Ryan Meili petitioned the province to fund antiretroviral treatments for HIV. ART medications do not cure HIV but in some cases have been shown to prevent the growth of the virus.

“Full coverage of these medications would prevent new cases of HIV, would save money and most importantly would save lives,” Meili told the assembly. “It would be an addition of less than half a million dollars to fully cover those medications...we know how much each new case costs, so it would be a very good step to take.”

Minister of Health Jim Reiter says the HIV infection rate in Saskatchewan is a serious issue. Reiter says the government is considering the ART treatment.

“We take this seriously, but we have taken action...we have increased the amount spent on HIV testing by 443% and 45% on prevention funding,” said Reiter. “We are considering where we should go from here and we want to do everything we can to help, but it should be stated that as of right now 93% of the cost of HIV treatments is provided by the government.”

The two respective MLAs also argued over whether the recent rise in the reported number of HIV cases was due to a rise in testing.

However, both agreed to advocate the federal government for more funding for HIV/AIDS organizations around the province.

According to statistics from the Saskatoon Health Region, 1 in four people living with HIV have died in the province in last decade. Saskatchewan has also been shown to have nearly double the rate of the infectious disease than the rest of Canada with a concernedly high diagnosis rate in the Indigenous population.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 December 2017 15:41
Partnership between Metis Nation-Saskatchewan and Canada impending PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joel Willick   
Tuesday, 05 December 2017 10:18

Photo courtesy of crwflags.com

Metis Nation-Saskatchewan is putting the final touches on a memorandum of understanding between them and the Government of Canada.

In the historic Daniels decision, the Supreme Court of Canada redefined Metis standing in the country. Among many things, the decision came with the requirement to resolve outstanding claims under section 35 of the Constitution Act.

In light of this, other Metis organizations have signed agreements with Ottawa to ensure parties work toward just and lasting settlements.

MN-S President, Glen McCallum, says the organization is finalizing agreeable terms for their own MOU with the Government of Canada.

"This MOU is very important," said McCallum. "For many years, I have seen many politicians representing the Metis have always fought for the right for land, and this MOU really opens the door for conversation, but more importantly, to implement some sort of idea on how we deal with our land across Saskatchewan."

The impending MOU has also garnered support from northern Saskatchewan Metis leaders as well.

"I am ecstatic of the impending signing of the MOU between the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan and the Government of Canada. This will set the foundation for much needed programs and services for Metis communities such as Pinehouse," said Kineepik Metis Local Executive Director, Vince Natomagan, in a statement provided to MBC.

In order to help them with this process, the MN-S has partnered with an experienced lawyer to provide expertise on Metis land claims.

The organization announced that Indigenous legal expert Tom Isaac will help them on matters like the North West Metis Land Claim, as well as the Ile-a-la-Crosse Boarding School.

Isaac has an extensive history in Aboriginal law, and has been part of treaty and land settlement negotiations across Canada.

McCallum believes having Isaac at the table will be a "big asset" for them.

"Anything you do, you want the best people with you, and that is the same for negotiations," said the MN-S president. "Tom Isaac has proven the point that Metis has the right to land."

The Metis Nation-Saskatchewan recently held a leadership retreat in Manitou Lake. McCallum say the retreat provided opportunity for the Provincial Métis Council to assess its governance structures.

"It's all about accountability and transparency," said McCallum. "We need to establish ourselves as who we are as Metis."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 December 2017 10:31
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