Tag Archives: State of Emergency

Manitoba First Nations Declare a State of Emergency over Drug Crisis

Seven Manitoba First Nations have declared a state of emergency in response to rising substance abuse; resulting in growing crime rates and increased suicides.

According to CTV News, Chiefs from the Birdtail Sioux, Dakota Tipi, Long Plain, Roseau River Anishinabe, Sandy Bay Ojibwaym Swan Lake, and Waywayseecappo First Nations made the declaration to raise awareness about the rise in drug abuse among their communities, including the use of opioids, crack cocaine and methamphetamine.

There are about 20,000 people in the affected communities.

“The rise in substance abuse, growing crime rates and increase in suicides are shared concerns in our communities,” Chief Kenneth Chalmers, Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council chairperson said in a news release.

“In the last year in my community, 60 per cent of our children born were put on morphine after birth because of the addictions of the mothers,” – Ken Chalmers

Although the chiefs said they’ll be working to combat the crisis through a new strategy of education, prevention, and enforcement, they’re calling for government action at the provincial and federal levels to help in creating an addiction treatment facility.

“We need a treatment centre in our communities,” Francine Meeches, chief at Swan Lake First Nation, told CTV Winnipeg. “[In] one of our communities, somewhere, we need healing centres. Somebody owes us that.”

The chiefs have also pledged to work with police in preventing drugs from coming into communities and exile band members who are caught selling drugs.

Wapekeka First Nation Declares State of Emergency in Wake of Suicides

Jolynn Winter, 12, left, and Chantel Fox, 12, centre, from the community if Wapapeka First Nation in Ontario, died by suicide in January. Jenera Roundsky, 12, (not pictured) died on June 13. (Supplied by the Winter and Fox families/CBC News)

Jenera Roundsky, 12, latest child to die by suicide in the remote northern First Nation

Staff | June 21, 2017

Wapekeka First Nation has declared a state of emergency after the third suicide of a child in the remote First Nation since January.

Chief Brennan Sainnawap issued the declaration after a meeting Tuesday night.

All of the girls who died were just 12 years old and part of a suicide pact that community leaders became aware of last summer.

That’s when community officials first asked for help but, according to a spokesperson, it has been slow to arrive.

Jenera Roundsky was the latest child to die. She was found by another child near the community’s outdoor rink last week. Jolynn Winter died on Jan. 8, while Chantel Fox died two days later.

Nearly 40 young people from the community are currently considered to be at risk of suicide; that represents about 10 per cent of the population of Wapekeka.

The state of emergency asks for an immediate response from Ontario and provision of the necessary services for the community.


‘Another Reason To Live:’ Attawapiskat Teen Struggles For Meaning In Life

Rebecca Hookimaw, 17, poses for a photograph in the northern Ontario First Nations reserve in Attawapiskat, Ont., on Thursday, April 21, 2016. Hookimaw began drinking and taking pills and tried to commit suicide before and after the suicide of her sister Sheridan Hookimaw who was 13-years-old. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Rebecca Hookimaw, poses for a photograph in the northern Ontario First Nations reserve in Attawapiskat, Ont., on Thursday, April 21, 2016.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The Canadian Press | April 24, 2016

ATTAWAPISKAT, Ont. – Thirteen-year-old Sheridan Hookimaw killed herself on the banks of the river that flows through Attawapiskat, ultimately sparking a crisis that has now drawn international attention to her isolated First Nations community.

The sickly girl, who had to be flown out weekly for medical appointments, recorded video messages to her family saying she wanted to end her pain, and telling them not to blame themselves.

Since then, as many as 100 others in Attawapiskat — a community of 2,100 people — have apparently tried to kill themselves, sparking panic among the First Nation’s leaders, who recently declared a state of emergency in a desperate cry for help.

Among them is the big sister Sheridan left behind.

“Every morning when I wake up, when I don’t see my sister there or when I don’t hear her voice, I feel so lonely without her,” Rebecca Hookimaw, 16, says at the home they shared.

“I just tell myself: ‘She’s out of town, she’s at her appointment.’ I still don’t want to believe she’s gone.”

Beyond the grievous personal loss, Hookimaw’s acquaintance with desolation runs deep. Her eyes speak of things no teenager should have to know about.

She grew up with her grandparents rather than with her mom and dad, she says. Her father disappeared from her life, leaving a void, although she vacillates between whether or not it still bothers her.

Her background has also helped her understand why her peers — most from damaged families living in over-crowded, frequently substandard houses in which drug and alcohol addictions wreak havoc — might want to kill themselves.

“I’ve been through that, too,” she says, waving her long black hair from her face. “I started drinking and doing drugs because I couldn’t handle the pain anymore.”

There was also bullying: people called her fat and ugly, she says. Adding to her woes, her four-year-old cousin was killed by a truck a few years ago as she rode her bike on a rutted street — there are no sidewalks and few safe places for kids to play in Attawapiskat.

By last fall, when her sister sought out the means with which to end her life, Hookimaw had already tried suicide several times.

“I never made it through, but my sister did,” she says. “I got mad about it and sad about it, but I’m starting to think that God or whatever didn’t want her to be in pain or suffer anymore, and he gave me another reason to live, I guess.”

Sheridan’s death initially pushed Rebecca to further alcohol abuse — the community is officially dry although liquor can be obtained — but the tragedy also prompted the young woman to try to turn her life around.

Now, she says, she’s trying to support other teens who may be teetering on the edge. She wants them to know that suicide is not the answer.

“I tell people things I can’t even tell myself,” Hookimaw says. “If you ever think about taking your life away, don’t do it. Suicide ends your pain but it will go on to somebody else, and it’s just going to keep on going.”

A few nights ago, yet another teen in Attawapiskat was airlifted for treatment after cutting at her neck. A day earlier, federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett had flown in to talk to the chief about the deep-rooted crisis.

Bennett also got an earful from young residents about their wants and needs. Hookimaw delivered an emotional, unscripted speech that came from her heart.

She says she wanted to make it clear that First Nations people are tired of being third-class citizens in their own land.

“People are treating us like we’re nothing. We’re not different from everybody. We’re all human,” she says. “If we were like white or whatever, they’d help us out right away, but we’re native.”

Bennett has gone. The glare of the media is fading, leaving the still-forlorn young woman trying to move beyond the suicide crisis that is weighing on both her and other First Nations communities across Canada.

“I hope everything changes in Attawapiskat one day, because I have little brothers and I don’t want them growing up the way I grew up.”


Five More Suicide Attempts Made In Attawapiskat ‘Aboriginal Community In State Of Emergency’


Attawapiskat First Nation

Reuters, Apr. 16, 2016

Suicide attempts rise in Canada aboriginal community in crisis

Five children tried to take their own lives Friday evening in a Canadian aboriginal community of 2,000 that has declared a state of emergency over repeated suicide attempts, its chief said.

Chief Bruce Shisheesh of the Attawapiskat First Nation in the province of Ontario confirmed the news in a brief telephone conversation on Saturday. It was not immediately clear how old the children are.

The remote northern community declared a state of emergency last Saturday after 11 of its members attempted suicide in one weekend and 28 tried to do so in March.

About a dozen teenagers in the community attempted suicide on Monday, after the declaration.

Regional and federal governments sent healthcare workers to the community in response to the state of emergency.

Canadian legislators held a special parliamentary session Tuesday night to address the suicide attempts, calling them “completely unacceptable” and vowing steps to keep them from happening again.

Canada’s 1.4 million aboriginals, who make up about 4 percent of the country’s population, have higher levels of poverty and a lower life expectancy than other Canadians and are more often victims of violent crime, addiction and incarceration.

Canada’s Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said in a statement on Friday she would visit the community.

Shisheesh tweeted hours later: “Busy night at the hospital … pray for Attawapiskat.”

(Reporting by Ethan Lou in Toronto; Editing by James Dalgleish)


Grassy Narrows Declares State Of Emergency Over Unsafe Drinking Water

A beach in Grassy Narrows First Nation is shown. (grassynarrows.ca)

A beach in Grassy Narrows First Nation is shown. (grassynarrows.ca)

CTV News

The Grassy Narrows First Nation has declared a state of emergency over unsafe drinking water in the community.

The Ontario community also known as Asubpeechoseewagong is located approximately 300 kilometres east of Winnipeg.

In a statement issued Thursday morning, the community advised residents to consume bottled water until its drinking water is considered safe.

“The community is delivering bottled water door-to-door to ensure that their families, many of which have already been impacted by mercury poisoning, have safe drinking water,” the statement said.

The statement said that drinking water tests completed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment found turbidity at a level 120 times the safe limit. Turbidity refers to discolouration and particulate matter in the water.

Chemicals that are possible carcinogens were also found in elevated levels.

According to the statement, parts of the community have not been able to drink the tap water for two years due to elevated levels of uranium. The entire community has been under a “boil water” advisory for approximately one year.

In June 2015, a report commissioned by the Ontario government and Grassy Narrows found high mercury levels in the water supply.