As per the latest reports, a western Manitoba Indigenous community has recently declared a state of emergency after four of its members dies of suicide in the past month and three in the past week alone.
The nation’s governance wrote in an open letter that Sioux Valley Dakota Nation has demanded immediate assistance and money for mental health supports from the Indigenous Services Canada.
The memo that was addressed to the federal minister of Indigenous Services and the provincial minister of Indigenous and Northern Relations stated that with a heavy and solemn heart they recognize that due to the lack of current resources in the community they are unable to properly and appropriately address the ingoing and urgent mental health needs of the people.
The community that is approximately 50km west of Brandon has requested funding of four full-time community mental health workers and support for its crisis line workers.
Presently there is just one mental health worker being employed in the community while a crisis phone line has been staffed by volunteers round the clock.
Chief Jennifer Bone said in a phone interview that it is quite overwhelming that the community members are now reaching out and that they are curious to know why these things are happening around and what they all can do.
The Chief further said that he wants the community to know that they aren’t alone and that no one is alone including himself, and that he is ready to offer all his support and power. He shall continue to do the work on behalf of every citizen to procure the support required to move forward.
A spokesperson for Indigenous Services Canada Minister Marc Miller named Adrienne Vaupshas confirmed that $141000 shall be reportedly provided to the community for mental health supports while an emergency response team shall arrive in the community on 14th October.
The memo read that the community also wants a longer-term plan, a healing lodge meant to address the impacts of colonialism and long-term resources to thereby address health, and safety.
Moreover, in an email, Vaupshas wrote that the federal government has taken concrete steps for long-term solutions by outing $425 million annually into the community-based services for First Nations and Inuit communities.
The band council resolution that had declared the state of emergency has noted that the COVID-19 safeguards have hindered the community’s ability to conduct traditional grief and trauma practices.
Vaupshas further added that the federal government has recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the need for mental health support and pointed to an additional $82.5 million committed to the Indigenous communities in August that were meant for surge capacity and also for adapting to the mental health services.
In a news release on Saturday evening, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said that it has offered condolences and support to the grieving community.
A statement released from the AMC Grand Chief, Arlen Dumas read that they are now having funerals on a weekly basis and the incident has been wearing them down. It also read that although the AMC has worked to assist the community, it still needs federal support.