NL Innu Plea – CP

Source: The Canadian Press – Broadcast wire
Jun 7, 2017

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – An aboriginal leader in Labrador who recently lost his 16-year-old son to suicide is calling on the federal and provincial governments to dramatically alter the way they treat Innu youth with substance abuse problems.

Simeon Tshakapesh, deputy grand chief of the Innu Nation, has written an intensely raw account of how the Innu of Labrador have suffered over the years, and he says the province’s Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development failed his son, Thunderheart, who died on May 24.

In an open letter, Tshakapesh says despite his deep sorrow and anger, he wants to see the provincial and federal governments invest in an Innu-led project that would put an end to having troubled children and youth removed from their communities _ as his son was for two years.

He says the removal process may keep vulnerable youth safe and sober, but it also destroys connections to their family, language and community.

Instead, Tshakapesh says future treatment programs must focus on helping children and youth learn how to survive off the land in the wilder corners of Labrador, a process that would revive the proud history of the Innu as nomadic hunters.

Tshakapesh says there’s plenty of evidence to suggest the Innu in general gain a sense of purpose and fulfillment when they are out on the land, doing what their ancestors did for thousands of years.

(The Canadian Press)


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