More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Brothers' suicides at the centre of Labrador Innu call for help
Canadian Press

NATUASHISH, Nfld. (CP) - The leaders of this relocated Innu community renewed their call Tuesday for emergency action to treat alcohol and solvent abuse following the suicides of two teenage brothers over the summer.

A 19-year-old hanged himself July 6 in Natuashish, a newly built community in the remote Labrador wilderness. His 17-year-old brother, also from Natuashish, killed himself in the Innu community of Sheshatshiu on Aug. 24.

"How many of our children have to die?" asked Simeon Tshakapesh, the former chief and now spokesman for the band and council.

Tshakapesh said both brothers were known to sniff gas to get high, a problem that plagues dozens of children in Natuashish and attracted world attention when it came to light a decade ago.

In 1993, news broadcasts showed children in Davis Inlet sniffing gas in an unheated shack, screaming that they wanted to die. The footage shocked Canada and the world about conditions in the dilapidated shantytown, where most of the nearly 700 residents lived without running water.

In December 2002, the residents were moved to Natuashish but the rampant alcoholism among adults and solvent abuse among children moved with them, Tshakapesh said.

Despite promises from Health Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs, there is no treatment centre in Natuashish.

There is no safe house for children and not nearly enough mental health and addictions resources to deal with decades of alcoholism, sexual abuse and social dysfunction, Tshakapesh said.

The band wants an emergency mental-health team brought in to assess the situation and they want immediate steps to provide counselling and addictions services, he said.

"We're more in crisis than I've ever seen," Tshakapesh said. "We need help desperately and we need it now."

Nobody from Northern Affairs was immediately available for comment.

In June, Lloyd Wicks, the province's child advocate, called on the federal and provincial governments to take emergency measures after a teenage girl was held captive for three weeks and severely assaulted.

The 13-year-old girl was never reported missing to police. It wasn't until she was discovered badly beaten with broken bones and injuries from a pellet gun that police were notified.

Tshakapesh said the Innu leadership is still considering bylaws for a dry community - a bylaw they've been considering for six years.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Yes, it is. In Canada, the Inuit and First Nations people are "The Forgotten Citizens". The US has their First Nations people; Australia has the Aboriginals. It's a shameful part of the history of Western civilzation -- we move in, take their land, displace them into places we don't want to live, take away their lifestyles and culture and basic means of survival, and then leave them to their own devices.
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