The Public Service Alliance of Canada BC Region stands in solidarity with the people of Attawapiskat and the activists who continue to bring the deplorable conditions in some indigenous communities before the public eye.
The ongoing crisis in Attawaspikat hits close to home for members in BC. PSAC represents members in Attawaspiskat itself and in indigenous communities across the country, as well as at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and the First Nations Health Authority in BC. PSAC members are proud to deliver public services to First Nations and Aboriginal groups and are saddened and angered by the recent news from Ontario.
Over the past few months, over one third of the Attawapiskat population under the age of 19 has been caught in an unprecedented suicide epidemic. There were 11 suicide attempts in a single night, and nearly 30 in the month of March alone. Suicide is the leading cause of death of Indigenous people under the age of 45, six times higher than non-indigenous people.
The crisis taking place in Northern Ontario is not new, but the result of years of systemic problems that are not unique to this indigenous community. Like so many other indigenous communities, Attawapiskat grapples with limited health services and high unemployment, poor water quality and sanitation, inadequate housing and infrastructure and the intergenerational impacts of colonialism and the residential school system.
For many Canadians, it may be difficult to imagine the adversity and scale of tragedies endured by so many indigenous people. It is very unfortunate that it took an event like the crisis in Attawaspikat to bring the conditions in indigenous communities to the forefront of the public’s attention.
As PSAC’s National President said earlier this week: “All Canadians must come together and make things right for the people of Attawapiskat and for Indigenous peoples across the country.”
PSAC calls on members and all Canadians to send an email to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voicing concern with the situation in Attawapiskat, and calls on the government to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission without delay.
Bob Jackson, BC REVP