AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo and Youth Council Co-chair Colby
Tootoosis congratulate Okanagan Nation young leaders

OTTAWA, April 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today issued the following statement congratulating Okanagan youth for their leadership and innovation in addressing youth suicide and violence.

"As National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), and on behalf of the AFN executive and youth council, I applaud the leadership of the young people in the Okanagan region in their efforts to raise awareness of the important issue of youth suicide and violence.

The Spirit of Syilx Youth Unity Run has helped draw attention to a devastating reality in many First Nation communities where, on average, youth suicide and attempted suicide rates are five to twenty times higher than among non-First Nation youth.

By involving young people and families, the Okanagan Nation youth have shown the importance of including their energy and innovative thinking in finding a solution - something that also contributes to the success of various National Aboriginal youth suicide prevention programs across the country.

We all know that healthy communities are thriving communities. That's why supporting efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and community togetherness is so important to improving the quality of life in First Nation communities."

The 2nd annual Spirit of Syilx youth unity run started at Westbank First Nation near Kelowna, BC April 22nd and ended at Merritt, BC April 25th. More than 180 youth from the Okanagan Nation participated in the 230 km relay.

AFN national youth council co-chair Colby Tootoosis stated, "Keeping our young people in their bodies is vital for the liberation of our nations. Change and growth happens from the inside out and what better way to awaken the vitality of life, for the promotion of life, than by running with prayers for a brighter future."

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada.

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information: For further information: Assembly of First Nations Communications Officer, Jenna Young at (613) 241-6789, ext 401, (613) 314-8157 (mobile) or

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