Inquiry into the circumstances and causes of five suicides that occurred in 2015 in the community of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam: The Innu Council is seeking quick implementation of the Coroner's recommendations

UASHAT MAK MANI-UTENAM, QC, Jan. 16, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - The Innu Council of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam (ITUM) and the Chief Mike McKenzie undertake to adopt appropriate measures to quickly implement the recommendations issued by the Coroner Mr. Bernard Lefrançois in his report on the circumstances and causes of five suicides that occurred in 2015.

In his report, made public on January 14 at a meeting held at the Shaputuan museum in Uashat, the Coroner Mr. Bernard Lefrançois concluded that the wave of suicides that occurred in the community in 2015 was avoidable and was caused by the profound personal discontent of the victims as well as by the "apartheid system into which Aboriginals have been thrust for 150 years." He issued forty-one recommendations directed at a dozen organizations, including the federal and provincial governments, as well as the First Nation Council (ITUM).

ITUM also takes note of the government's reaction to the report and endorses the proposal by the Minister of Public Health, Lucie Charlebois, to establish, in partnership with the community, a federal-provincial discussion table aimed at putting into effect the forty-one recommendations of the public inquest report. "We endorse the proposal but the work must be carried out efficiently and not get bogged down in unending discussions. Lives are at stake," declared Chief McKenzie.

The Chief also emphasizes that the issue of suicides is complex and multifaceted. There will have to be a host of solutions developed at the table which cover all aspects of community life, ranging from strengthening identity, finding the necessary means to support the education for our youth, better support for families in difficulty, and accessing the necessary resources to ensure an equitable social and economic development for our population.

"We have to do a better job of responding to suicide crises, but the real challenge is to prevent such crises from happening. Promoting life and implementing strategies that reinforce protective factors – that is the real challenge if we want to diminish the pain in our communities," added the Chief.

"It's clear that we each have to meet our responsibilities and ensure that the situation fundamentally changes. We will have to work side by side to offer more hope to our youth and to avoid more needless loss of life. In particular, I call on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to have the federal government assumes its responsibility and swiftly take concrete action in this matter," insisted Chief Mike McKenzie.

ITUM wishes to acknowledge the courage of the victims' families and loved ones as well as the community members who participated in the public inquest.

"It will be in the memory of the five victims that we will all collaborate in implementing the solutions in our community. Our community was very hard-hit but we know how to demonstrate resiliency, courage and solidarity," added the Vice-Chief Virginie Michel.

 

SOURCE Innu Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam (ITUM)

For further information: Jean-Claude Therrien Pinette, Director, Office of the protection of rights and territory, ITUM, Cell: 418-409-5681, jean-claude.pinette@itum.qc.ca

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Innu Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam (ITUM)

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