To Carolyn Bennett, Federal Minister of Indigenous Affairs – Please Act On Indigenous Youth Suicide Crisis

To Hon. Carolyn Bennett, Federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs; Hon. Jane Philpott, Federal Minister of Health; Hon. David Zimmer, Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs

Dear Minister Bennett:
I spent yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, August 9) sitting with the good people at the ‘Indigenous Youth Suicide Crisis Vigil’ at INAC, 25 St Clair Ave E, Toronto.
Their concern which I share is over the high number of Indigenous Youth suicides that are occurring, especially in northern indigenous communities.  Just over the past few days there have been even more reported youth suicides in these communities. The media reported the terrible news of additional Indigenous youth suicides just this week. See:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-indigenous-suicide-crisis-1.4239790 and http://www.metronews.ca/news/toronto/2017/08/09/toronto-advocates-want-action-on-indigenous-youth-suicide.html
The people I met with said that they are upset that you and other government officials have said that you will ‘meet again’ over this crisis … in the Fall! I agree with them that this is not good enough. Action is needed right now by the Governments of Canada and Ontario to prevent further youth suicides.
I agree that the conditions causing the hopelessness that leads young people to commit suicide are complex, but they have much to do with the way these northen communities have been treated – as second or third class citizens in a wealthy Canada.
As you know, Cindy Blackstock of The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society has been calling for the Canadian government to honour the decision of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) that ordered the government of Canada to end the racial discrimination against First Nations Children by immediately increasing payments to these children to equal payments made by Provincial governments to all non-Native children. Cindy Blackstock said in part:
The quasi-judicial tribunal initially found in January (2016) that the government had been discriminating against First Nations children in its delivery of child welfare services on reserve. Two subsequent rulings ordered the government to update its policies and procedures to comply with its original findings.

“You have a group of children who the federal government consciously decides are getting less public services than every other group in the country,” Blackstock said. “They are racially discriminating against them . . . as a matter of law and they are failing to comply with legal orders. That, to me, is pretty clear cut.”  See:  https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/09/20/trudeau-government-on-notice-in-first-nations-child-welfare-dispute.html

To my knowledge (please correct me if I’m wrong) at this point the Trudeau government has still refused to abide by the order of the CHRC. This makes Trudeau’s words about Reconciliation with First Nations ‘false news’ as far as I’m concerned.
I have lost patience with governments at all levels that still make our First Nations neighbours live in Third World conditions that contribute to the Indigenous youth suicides we are seeing continue. These living conditions are not inevitable. Please listen to the people at the Vigil, mostly mothers themselves who understand how awful it is to lose a child, especially when it is a suicide because of hopelessness.
We must all do better. Please act now!
I would like a reply regarding actions you are taking to make the lives of Indigenous people in northern communites better.
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About Murray Lumley

Board member of Conscience Canada; Christian Peacemaker Teams Reservist; retired teacher; grandfather
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