In 2007, suicides among Canadian First Nations people, Métis and Inuit were double the rate for non-Indigenous people.[i]
By 2016, suicides among Canadian First Nations people, Métis and Inuit were triple the rate for non-Indigenous people.[ii]
Further, the suicide rate for First Nations people living on reserve is twice as high as the rate for First Nations people living off reserve, which speaks directly to the lack of hope, the lack of a viable future First Nations people feel living on reserves.
In his December 8, 2015, speech to the Assembly of First Nations, newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said:[iii]
“The difference is that as Prime Minister, my government now has the opportunity to take that understanding and transform it into action. Or as last week’s Throne Speech put it, ‘make real change happen.’
“One of the ways we will advance that agenda for real change is by making sure that the voices of Indigenous Peoples are heard in Ottawa.”
Since then, Trudeau’s action on the First Nations file has been appalling. The Trudeau government did what every government – regardless of political ideology – does to resolve the ongoing issues facing Canada’s Indigenous peoples: absolutely nothing.
No Canadian should live for one minute without clean drinking water, yet 36 First Nations communities continue to live without that basic necessity and have done so for years.
Is it any wonder why the on-reserve suicide rate is triple that of non-Indigenous Canadians?
When a person sees no hope for their future and no hope for their children’s future, suicide can appear to be a viable option.
It’s not, or at least it should never be, but Justin Trudeau is not a man of action nor is he a man of problem solving.
He’s a person of endless virtue signalling and vapid responses, none more offensive than his ridiculing of protestors attempting to force Trudeau to pay attention to the mercury contamination in the First Nations communities of Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong.
“Thank you for your donation.”[iv]
Maybe that was part of his “total renewal of the relationship between Canada and First Nations Peoples”.
The Trudeau government intends to waste billions of dollars on a Firearm Confiscation Compensation for lawful licensed firearm owners who own rifles he and Bill Blair don’t like, while utterly ignoring the suicide crisis happening on Canada’s First Nations reserves.
Imagine how many lives could be saved if the Trudeau government cared 1/1000th as much about the suicide epidemic on reserves as he does about virtue signalling press conferences and photo ops?
Imagine what live-changing results could billions in federal funding could make.
While we doubt it will help him change course and do the right thing (for once) in his political career, we want to remind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of his promise to First Nations across Canada shortly after he was elected in 2015.
“Today, I give you my word that we will renew and respect that relationship. We will work with you to rebuild trust. We will tell the truth.”
“Working together as partners, I am confident that we can make meaningful and immediate progress on the issues that matter most to your communities – things like education, housing, employment, health and mental health care, community safety, child welfare, and stewardship over our land, water and air. doing anything less is simply unacceptable.”
“Oh, and I’m firing Jody Wilson-Raybould because she dared to speak the truth.”
Okay, Trudeau didn’t actually say the last line but his firing of Ms. Wilson-Raybould – one of Trudeau’s finest Cabinet Ministers – wasn’t simply wrong on moral and ethical grounds, it was a kick in the head to Indigenous Canadians who believed this time might be different.
How many more First Nations people must die from lack of hope before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau keeps his word?