A remote Indigenous community in Canada has declared a state of emergency after 11 residents attempted to take their own lives in a single day over the weekend. Local leaders in Attawapiskat First Nation, in northern Ontario, said on Monday that 11 people attempted to take their own lives on Saturday alone.
“Attawapiskat has been waiting since (October),” Attawapiskat Chief Bruce Shisheesh tweeted on Monday.
Shisheesh said a health crisis team, including mental health nurses and social workers, were being flown into Attawapiskat, an isolated community of about 2,000 residents on the banks of James Bay.
The community also witnessed 26 suicide attempts in March and 86 since September, resulting in at least one death, according to spokesperson for Canada’s health minister. Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, the organisation representing First Nations peoples across Canada, called for a national strategy to address the high suicide rates countrywide.
He also requested more government investments to support First Nations communities. “The situation in Attawapiskat is sadly felt by far too many First Nations across the country,” Bellegarde said in a statement on Monday. “We need a sustained commitment to address long-standing issues that lead to hopelessness among our peoples, particularly the youth.”