The NDP is joining calls from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) for more investment in mental health services.
Charlie Angus, the party’s federal Indigenous Affairs critic, spoke to media ahead of Saskatchewan’s provincial NDP convention in Saskatoon.
He said a rash of youth suicides in the northern Saskatchewan communities of Stanley Mission and Deschambault Lake are the result of the Government of Canada failing to meet its legal responsibility to look after First Nations people.
“At the 11th hour, the government acts shocked, acts surprised, can’t believe this is happening (and) sends in a team when the communities have been saying week-after-week, year-after-year: ‘where are the long-term resources ?” he said.
Georgina Jolibois, NDP Member of Parliament for Desnethé-Misinnipi-Churchill River, said she would be going to Ottawa with a message for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“I know aboriginal communities across Canada – First Nations, Métis and Northerners, we’re looking for that nation-to-nation meeting. You said you were going to step up to the plate and we’re still waiting,” she said.
Jolibois and Angus were joined on stage by the FSIN vice-chiefs Kimberly Jonathan and Robert Merasty.
Both called for long-term programming to be directed by leadership within communities, rather than imposed from outside.
Merasty said both the federal and provincial levels of government seem to be bogged down in their response as they work out a new health accord.
“While they haggle and negotiate and there’s political posturing going on, our young people are suffering. This lack of investment is a result of politics,” he said.