[R-G] Wave of suicide bids hits Kashechewan
mstainsby at resist.ca
Wed Feb 7 12:31:57 MST 2007
out of the headlines, out of mind, out of hope...
Wave of suicide bids hits reserve
Kashechewan residents also threatened by prospect of flooding
>From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
KASHECHEWAN, ONT. - The beleaguered Northern Ontario native reserve that
was evacuated in 2005 because of contaminated water is now being hit by
a rising epidemic of youth suicide attempts and the prospect that the
dike that protects it from floodwaters may fail this spring.
On Jan. 7, a 20-year-old man killed himself. Last month, 21 young people
aged 9 to 23 attempted suicide, and two suicide pacts among girls aged 9
to 12 were uncovered.
Exhausted health workers say they're close to the breaking point as they
try to provide round-the-clock suicide watches.
"We fear something terrible is going to happen," said health director
Edward Sutherland, appealing for additional resources. "We're dealing
with a time bomb."
Asked whether the government is providing extra help, Health Canada
spokeswoman Carole Saindon said the department funds three to six
mental-health support workers in the community, and last year came up
with an extra $350,000 for mental-health and suicide issues.
"At any given time, there are seven to nine nurses to address the health
needs of the community," Ms. Saindon added.
But Mr. Sutherland said that is not happening. Health Canada funding
covers only one mental-health worker, he said, and last year's extra
funding provided for two more at any given time for three months.
As for nurses, there are five at present and, over the past year there
have never been more than six, he said. Former Ontario cabinet minister
Alan Pope, in his October, 2006, report, noted there were four nurses in
Kashechewan at that time and called for additional services.
Crumbling infrastructure adds to the tension in a community that's
currently being canvassed for its views on relocation options that could
take five to 10 years to implement. With spring breakup 2½ months away,
residents fear a catastrophic failure of the 10-year-old dike that
Their concerns about the three-metre sand-and-gravel berm are justified,
an expert report says.
"The Kashechewan First Nation is not adequately protected against ice
jam flooding with the [dike] in its present condition," says a Dec. 22
report by a panel of experts headed by Grant Smith of Dam Safety
Poor design and shoddy construction were first identified by a 1998
Ontario Hydro investigation, but no action was taken on recommended
repairs, the report states.
A reinforced winter road crossing of the Albany River upstream of
Kashechewan may have exacerbated the problem, the report says. For the
past two years, the ice has been flooded and thickened so it can support
heavy loads headed for the diamond mine being built by De Beers Canada
Warming trends and increased rainfall have caused increasingly powerful
ice-jam floods in recent years, the report says, prompting evacuations
in April of 2005 and 2006. Within a few hours last April 22, water rose
rapidly by four metres to within half a metre of the crest of the dike.
It seeped through or under the dike at two locations and entered some
outlets left open by a sluice-gate failure. The airstrip outside the
dike was flooded, closing off that escape route.
Terrified residents were plucked to safety by helicopter. Chief Jonathan
Solomon, who was away goose-hunting, recalls trying to reassure his wife
by satellite phone while fearing the worst.
"People with young families have approached me and said they just don't
want to be here" for a repeat emergency, he said. He's met with the
government regarding the panel recommendations, which include a
state-of-the-art advance warning system and construction of a
high-ground area within the dike for use as a temporary refuge and helipad.
Tony Prudori of Indian and Northern Affairs says his department was
briefed by the expert panel last week and is assessing what to do. One
factor, he said, is what decision Kashechewan makes on relocation. Mr.
Pope recommended that the community move to Timmins, 450 kilometres to
Emily Faries of Laurentian University is heading a community
consultation of all residents aged 12 and up. Her report on the
community's preferred location is expected at the end of the month.
Chief Solomon estimated that 90 per cent of an initial canvas of 400
people favour moving to a site on higher ground 30 kilometres upriver.
The flood followed a health-related emergency evacuation after a local
doctor raised the alarm in October, 2005, about endemic skin infections
and other sickness caused by E.coli contamination of the drinking water.
The federal government spent $16-million on that evacuation, and another
$1-million to bring the
water-treatment plant up to standard.
1.. jiri Z from Canada writes: Do you have an inkling that somehow,
well ... we are not handling the Native issue correctly?
a.. Posted 06/02/07 at 8:46 AM EST |
Robert Schmidt from Toronto, Canada writes: Oh dear! Now, if this was
a far northern Muslim community issue, apologists left and right would
be popping up defending this individual right to cultural expression -
including jihad, suicide and murder. Not to be provocative or anything,
but isn't it possible this is "traditional Native Canadian culture"
annual event? I does seem to happen every year. No one has ever raised
one obvious issue, that being SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and
vitimin C deficiency common in northern communities, especially in
winter. Canada's federal and provincial health ministries, register for
your placement NOW in Duh School! Natch, we'll hear from the usual
apologists who will rouse themselves from their fat verandas to admonish
"evil white people" for things they BELIEVE happened in the past (and
which never actually DID happen, but such is the Canadian affection for
historical revisonism!) Listening to the stupid debate with the
uninformed is way TOO much like the Canadian House of Commons for my taste.
a.. Posted 06/02/07 at 9:20 AM EST |
3.. D D from Toronto, Canada writes: I found it a little disturbing
that the first half of the article, which deals with the important issue
of youth suicide, only discusses money. How much money is being spent by
the government for mental health workers in the community, how much it
costs to provide assistance, etc. Does anyone seriously believe that
these young people are attempting suicide because some governmental
agency is not allocating enough money to their community in some
fashion? If it were that simple, it would be simple to fix. I think an
informative article about this disturbing trend should at least attempt
to address or highlight potential causes of the rash of suicide
attempts. Not just the funding shortfall of mental health workers in
response to the attempts. These articles always make it seem as thought
problems can be solved by money. In reality, there are very few real
problems in this world that can be solved by money, no matter how much
of it we throw at them.
a.. Posted 06/02/07 at 9:48 AM EST
4.. jo bloom from toronto, Canada writes: SAD is not the
problem....it's racist policies and poverty and horrible conditions that
are contributing to suicide, not to mention lack of health services,
affordable food, good systems, clean water....etc.... COLONIALISM did
this to the first nations people of this land.....
a.. Posted 06/02/07 at 9:53 AM EST |
5.. Vern McPherson from Toronto, Canada writes: We can't continue to
have reserves in remote areas without adequate facilities. And it's
virtually impossible to build and maintain facilities in the middle of
nowhere. That means end the reserve system in remote areas and move the
people to built up locations. Funding a project that attempts to build a
town nowhere in the north is a pipe dream. Natives need to choose what
they want, to live on the land as their ancestors did or move into towns
where facilities they are talking about really exist.
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In the contradiction lies the hope
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