Ministers’ statement regarding Attawapiskat

April 11, 2016

Hearing about the loss of life to suicide and the feelings of despair felt by the community of Attawapiskat affects all of us, and reminds us of how important it is to work with First Nations and Indigenous peoples across the country to address the very real challenges facing their communities.

Our government wants to assure First Nations that we are personally and directly engaged in the recent states of emergencies that have been declared. We have reached out to First Nations leadership over the past day to identify how we can work together to provide both immediate and long term help.

To address the urgent need for additional mental health supports in Attawapiskat, Health Canada has dispatched two mental health counselors as part of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) crisis response unit. Health Canada is also working with the community and the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA) to coordinate our response to this crisis in the community, as well as enhance services for youth at risk.

But to truly improve the wellness of Indigenous peoples and bring hope to communities, we must focus our efforts on improving the socio-economic conditions they face. In Ontario, the federal government has worked with the province to set up a joint action table, so that federal and provincial governments can work together, hand in hand with First Nations leadership, to find concrete solutions. This work is already underway.

Making real, lasting change also requires a new fiscal relationship with First Nations, one that provides sufficient and sustained funding for First Nation communities. This is why our government has laid out historic investments in Budget 2016, which includes $8.4 billion for better schools and housing, cleaner water, cultural and recreation facilities and improvements for nursing stations.

It is vital to our nation’s future that the federal government work in genuine partnership with Indigenous communities and the provinces to ensure better health, social and economic outcomes for Indigenous Peoples, especially youth.

Together, we remain determined to put our minds and our efforts towards improving mental wellness and preventing the tragic loss of life through suicide.


Christina Lazarova
Office of the Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

Sabrina Williams
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett

Media Relations
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

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