September 24, 2020

Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan Sign Letter of Commitment with Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations

Preventing suicide among Indigenous youth is a key priority for government, Indigenous leaders, organizations, communities and youth themselves.

Today, Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), Saskatchewan Rural and Remote Health Minister Warren Kaeding, and Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), Portfolio Holder for the Health and Development Secretariat Vice Chief David Pratt announced the signing of a tripartite Letter of Commitment on mental health and wellness support services for Indigenous youth in the province.

“Suicide is a tragedy that we see far too often,” said Miller.  “Through this joint commitment, we are partnering with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the Government of Saskatchewan to work together to address the crisis of suicide among First Nation peoples in Saskatchewan, particularly among children and youth.  It is essential that all jurisdictions work collaboratively to enhance the delivery of culturally appropriate mental wellness supports and effective interventions that respects Indigenous perspectives and guidance while promoting a better understanding about suicide and that offers support for the survivors of suicide, and for the families, friends and communities who have been impacted by a suicide attempt or loss.”

“Suicide prevention and mental health remain high priorities for the Saskatchewan government,” Kaeding said.  “We are committed to working with our many partners on these pressing matters and continue to invest in programs and initiatives to help our First Nations people and all residents who need support across Saskatchewan.”

“This agreement is about creating hope: hope for the frontline workers struggling to find resources to help young people heal from depression and trauma; hope for parents wanting opportunities for their children to succeed, and hope for young people needing mental health resources, access to ceremony and cultural camps,” Pratt said.  “And in the next sixty days, this agreement will move from hope to action for our communities; from short-term reactionary measures to long-term sustained solutions.”

“First Nations youth are facing a mental health crisis and all levels of government must be committed to addressing the situation,” Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said.  “Working together we can surpass our goal of reducing youth rates to the same as non-First Nations until the rate is the lowest in Canada.  We will address suicide from a holistic perspective that draws upon what we know works for our people which includes strengthening our identity and connection to our cultures, reconnecting with our Elders, Knowledge keepers and the land.”

Through the Letter of Commitment, all three parties are committing to work toward addressing the issue of suicide in Saskatchewan First Nations communities.  This work will be informed by the FSIN Suicide Prevention Strategy, Saskatchewan’s Pillars for Life Suicide Prevention Plan and the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework grounded in Hope, Belonging, Meaning and Purpose.