Tag Archives: Pimicikamak

Northern Manitoba First Nation Healing After Suicide Crisis Wants To Reach Out To Attiwapiskat

A vigil was held in Pimicikamak on Sunday to remember the six people who died by suicide. (Facebook)

A vigil was held in Pimicikamak on Sunday to remember the six people who died by suicide. (Facebook)

CBC News Posted: Apr 13, 2016

One month ago Pimicikamak declared state of emergency after 6 suicide deaths

A youth leader in a Manitoba First Nation is saddened and dismayed to hear that an Ontario First Nation is dealing with a crisis of suicide attempts among youth – similar to what young people in his home community experienced just recently.

“I was shocked,” said Mervin McLeod from Pimicikamak in northern Manitoba, referring to the state of emergency declared in Attawapiskat in northern Ontario.  “I heard this while I was at the candle light vigil on Sunday. I was just shocked and in disbelief.”

The Ontario First Nation’s calls for help come exactly one month after Pimicikamak asked for support to deal with a suicide crisis that took six lives over four months.

Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency on April 9 after 11 suicide attempts in one night.

Pimicikamak still healing

McLeod, who runs a youth group called Project STOP, said people are still trying to heal from the suicide crisis that shook his First Nation in March.

He said while attempts are still happening, no one has died from suicide since the crisis was called.

McLeod said his 15-year-old cousin is among the people who tried to take her own life in the last month. He said he reached out to her and invited her to to join Project STOP.

Mervin McLeod

Mervin McLoed started a youth group in Pimicikamak to show young people that suicide is not the answer. (Jillian Taylor/ CBC)

“I am here. [I am] trying to do my best to help the youth and help my community and raise hope and awareness,” said McLeod. He said he wants to do the same for other communities, including Attiwapiskat.

“It makes me want to jump up and create awareness for reserves that are having a hard time.”

On Wednesday, a group of 30 young people and chaperones leave for a suicide prevention conference in Thompson.

McLeod said they will be taking SafeTALK training, which certifies participants to become a suicide-alert helper.

“We are going to bring back what we learned and teach others in the community, get our own workshop going for suicide prevention,” he said.

McLeod said when the group returns from Thompson, they will also be reaching out to youth in Attawapiskat offer support and hope.

Mood in school hallways improves

Kendall Robinson said there has been a constant stream of role models visiting Pimicikamak since March.

Kendall Robinson

Kendall Robinson and singer Robb Nash in Pimicikamak in March. (Facebook)

He said at first he was worried the attention would stop when the media left, but said that has not happened.

“We had Lisa Muswagon and her group come in, the OCN Blizzard, Robb Nash and his band, Fresh IE and his group,” he said. “It’s been good, it’s kept the kids busy.”

Robinson is the youth co-ordinator  for the Cross Lake Education Authority. He said the mood in the hallways at the schools has improved since four high school students took their own lives earlier this year.

“There are smiles on the kids’ faces, but there are still times where they think about the people, the young people who have passed,” he said.

Pimicikamak

The Winnipeg International Children’s Festival Circus and Magic Partnership hosted a workshop in Pimicikamak from April 4 to 8. (Kendall Robinson)

Robinson said he thinks the number of suicide attempts have dropped, but doesn’t have any statistics to back up that feeling.

He said things have calmed down in the past month and attributes that to all the visitors.

“They’re keeping busy with all the events and all of the people taking their time to come in and spend time with the kids,” he said.

Robinson said the local crisis workers are still in the school to help the students process their grief. A spokesperson for the province said the Crisis Stabilization Team has left, but the Northern Health Region continues to provide ongoing support as required.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, these resources are available:​

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/no-suicide-deaths-pimicikamak-state-emergency-1.3532419

Junior Hockey Team Visits Pimicikamak With Messages Of Hope For Youth

Brothers Brady and Anthony Keeper are feeling heartbroken because of the suicide crisis that is happening in their home community of Pimicikamak. They are hoping to share positive stories of hope to help kids on Wednesday. (Jason Smith )

Brothers Brady and Anthony Keeper are feeling heartbroken because of the suicide crisis that is happening in their home community of Pimicikamak. They are hoping to share positive stories of hope to help kids on Wednesday. (Jason Smith )

By Tiar Wilson, CBC News Posted: Mar 16, 2016

The crisis hits home for two brothers on the team because they grew up in Pimicikamak

The Opaskwayak Cree Nation Blizzard have been battling to stay in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League playoffs but off ice they’ve been battling heartbreak for a nearby community amid a suicide crisis.

The team is headed to the Cree community of Pimicikamak Wednesday morning, hoping to boost the spirits of youth.

“It’s something we need to do, there’s 11 players on the team who are aboriginal kids, they know what it’s like,” said head coach and manager Jason Smith.

Since December, six young people have died by suicide in Pimicikamak — also known as Cross Lake. At least 100 students remain on a suicide watch list, according to the band office.

The hockey team is expected to have a community luncheon when it arrives, after that players are planning to speak with youth at the school.

A team practice will also be held to give youth a chance to see the work the players put in each day. Afterward, the public is invited to skate with the team, take pictures and hang out.

Head coach Jason Smith (middle) says taking his team to Pimicikamak to share messages of hope during their community's suicide crisis is just something he needed to do. Especially since two of his players are from the Cree community, including Brady Keeper (far left). (Jason Smith)

Head coach Jason Smith (middle) says taking his team to Pimicikamak to share messages of hope during their community’s suicide crisis is just something he needed to do. Especially since two of his players are from the Cree community, including Brady Keeper (far left). (Jason Smith)

Two of the team members are from Cross Lake, brothers Brady Keeper, 19, and Anthony Keeper, 18.

“It’s pretty hard to see what’s going on over there. It hurts us personally too, what’s going on because we are from there and we know everybody in the community,” Brady said.

The Keeper brothers say they grew up with supportive parents. They recall their father flooding the backyard to make a rink.

“It was good for us that our dad kept us busy all through the winter and [even] the summer time,” Brady said.

Meanwhile Anthony acknowledges the hardships that came with growing up in a remote community. At the same time, he wants those still living in Pimicikamak to address what he feels is the elephant in the room.

‘Heartbreaking’

“Drugs and alcohol are one of the biggest impacts there so we need more stuff to do there,” Anthony said.

He says dealing with the impact of someone taking their own life is hard to handle.

Anthony said he hopes talking about negative habits might lead to positive outcomes.

“There is no school in the world that can give you experience like a life experience can. So I think it’s important that the youth see this,”– Jason Smith, OCN Blizzard Head Coach and Manager 

“I just want the community to be back to the way it was when we were younger,” Anthony said.

A vision his own coach strongly believes in.

“There is no school in the world that can give you experience like a life experience can. So I think it’s important that the youth see this,” Smith said.

Smith said you can achieve this success by teaching youth their life experiences are important and valued.

“Whether or not it’s just going on a camping trip or going hunting, stuff like that. [It’s about] being outdoors and being around family and having fun,” Smith said.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to leave the reserve and go to the city because some people aren’t comfortable doing that and that’s totally fine. Just don’t get stuck in [a] rut and just doing the same thing every day.”

An honest message the Keeper brothers hope to spread when they head home.

“[We’ve] just got to be positive when we go there and try have fun with the kids. I guess try help them forget about what’s going on there and bring the happiness back into the community,” Brady said.


If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, these resources are available:​

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/ocn-blizzard-hockey-club-travels-pimicikamak-1.3493097

Hydro ‘cautiously optimistic’ about steps to end Jenpeg occupation

Protesters set up around a campfire near the Jenpeg generating station in October as part of their occupation at the site. (Pimicikamak Occupation of Jenpeg/Facebook)

Protesters set up around a campfire near the Jenpeg generating station in October as part of their occupation at the site. (Pimicikamak Occupation of Jenpeg/Facebook)

Nov 06, 2014. CBC

The first steps have been taken to end the occupation of the Jenpeg generating station in northern Manitoba.

A memorandum of agreement has been signed by Manitoba Hydro, the province and  Pimicikamak Cree Nation (also known as Cross Lake First Nation) to negotiate a settlement to the three-week occupation of the dam.

Hydro spokesman Scott Powell said officials at the utility are cautiously optimistic “we’re on a path forward.”

“It’s really only the first step in our continuing discussions with Cross Lake towards getting that process agreement,” he said. “There’s [now] a framework to address their issues. But there’s lots of discussions yet to occur.”

Protesters from Pimicikamak have been occupying the grounds at Jenpeg since mid-October, forcing a number of Manitoba Hydro employees off the property.

The protesters want a revenue-sharing agreement with Hydro as well as compensation for damages caused by flooding from the dam, which opened in 1979.

They also want Premier Greg Selinger to visit and make a public apology.

Manitoba Hydro uses Jenpeg — located about 20 kilometres from Pimicikamak — to control outflows from Lake Winnipeg into the Nelson River.

The hydro system floods 65 square kilometres of Pimicikamak land and causes severe damage to thousands of kilometres of shoreline, Chief Cathy Merrick stated in a press release released when the protest began.

Pimicikamak signed an agreement with the province in 1977, before the dam opened, but Merrick has said the Crown corporation and the provincial government haven’t fulfilled their promise to eradicate the mass poverty and mass unemployment on the First Nation.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/hydro-cautiously-optimistic-about-steps-to-end-jenpeg-occupation-1.2825757?cmp=abfb

 

Protesters demand apology, environmental cleanup as Hydro standoff continues

Generation for the Nation Rally in Winnipeg. Photo: Red Power Media

Pimicikamak – Generation for the Nation Rally in Winnipeg. Photo: Red Power Media

Oct 23, 2014

Protesters are calling on the provincial government to help repair its broken relationship with the First Nations community.

A peaceful rally at the downtown Manitoba Hydro building Thursday afternoon saw about 30 members of the Pimicikamak First Nation protest the damage to their land by the Jenpeg Generating Station.

About 600 Pimicikamak residents last week evicted Manitoba Hydro employees from the Jenpeg station grounds in protest of what they said is the the Manitoba government’s failure to honour the Northern Flood Agreement, signed in the 1970s after the Jenpeg station was built about 20 kilometres from Cross Lake (525 kms north of Winnipeg by air).

Pimicikamak council member Mervin Garrick spoke to assembled crowd, representing Chief Cathy Merrick who couldn’t attend because her flight was cancelled. Garrick said the action is being taken to force the government to restore a fair relationship with Pimicikamak.

“They have not fulfilled their promise to do environmental cleanup… to maximize employment for our people… to eradicate mass poverty and mass unemployment,” Garrick said, noting there are 287 residents right now without power because Manitoba Hydro cut them off when they could not afford to pay bills that, at about $600 per month, are among the highest in the province.

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Pimicikamak – Generation for the Nation Rally in Winnipeg. Photo: Red Power Media

“We feel frustrated. We feel cheated. But we also feel determined,” he said. “That is why we will stay at Jenpeg until the government and Hydro demonstrate that they are committed to restoring a fair relationship with Pimicikamak.”

Garrick said the community gave the government a list of five solutions and members are waiting on a meeting between Chief Merrick and Premier Greg Selinger that will, they hope, propel the government into action.

The Pimicikamak proposal asks for a revenue-sharing agreement with the province, a public apology, environmental cleanup of the shorelines, a say in how water levels are managed and an aggressive Power Smart program to lower the community’s hydro bills.

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Pimicikamak – Generation for the Nation Rally in Winnipeg. Grand Chief Derek Nepinak. Photo: Red Power Media

Among several speakers were Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and Dalton McKay, the Pimicikamak youth council representative.

Meanwhile, at the Jenpeg facility in the Pimicikamak territory, around five to seven Manitoba Hydro  chose to remain inside to safely run the station.

These people have now surpassed their normal shift change. Both hydro and the protesters have told the employees they may leave at any time but the protestors also said any workers who leave will not be allowed back in.

Manitoba Hydro spokesman Scott Powell said Hydro cannot disclose how many employees remain inside for security reasons.

“Given the public risks associated with abandoning the station and the potential challenges of an evacuation we are maintaining the status quo at present and this is being monitored around the clock. Perimeter security measures have been strengthened,” Powell told the Free Press on Thursday afternoon.

“Our employees’ decision to stay reflects an extraordinary commitment to Manitoba Hydro and to the customers we serve.”

Winnipeg Police Manitoba Hydro Building. Photo: Red Power Media

While the Thursday afternoon protest was peaceful, Hydro locked down its building at 4 p.m. and a Winnipeg police presence of at least five marked police cars were seen parked a short distance away and around the block.

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/Protesters-demand-apology-environmental-cleanup-as-Hydro-barricade-280255182.html