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Aboriginal Neighbours

 The People's Inquiry on Suicide

Join us as we support the First Nations in northern Ontario as they dig deep into the ongoing concerns of suicide and it's impact on the youth in the far north.



 The Facts:

  • -Within the 50 First Nation Communities that are part of Treaty #9, more than 400 young people between the ages of 15-24yrs have taken their lives using suicide in the past 25 years.
  • -Suicide and self-injury is the leading cause of death for Aboriginal Youth.
  • -Suicide rates of Aboriginal young women (15-24yrs) are eight times greater than the national average.
  • -In 2000, suicide accounted for 22% of all deaths among Aboriginal youth (10-19yrs) in Northern Ontario.


The 'People's Inquiry' has been mandated by the Chief's of seven First Nations communities in northern Ontario, and it is hoped that this inquiry will develop an action plan to move forward and address suicide in the Mushkegowuk region.


For more information on this and other Aboriginal Neighbours programs, please contact Program Coordinator Lyndsay Mollins Koene


 United Nations raises concern on hunger among Indigenous communities

expensive milk
“In our community, 4 liters of milk costs us $15. Our kids watch the milk commercial on the television that tells them to drink milk to help build young bones and teeth, and our families are unable to afford it. I feel that this basic need is being denied our children.”

- Chief Donny Morris, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (Big Trout Lake)

 "… the situation of Aboriginal peoples in Canada raises specific concerns"  says the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter while visiting Canada on May 16, 2012.
Not long ago, while in Kashachewan First Nations, an isolated First Nation along the James Bay Coast, I was working with a woman who wanted to try a new recipe, but noted that her family was very diabetic.  I offered up a recipe of my own, chicken legs, tomatoes, and rice.  Together we shopped for the ingredients at the only store in the community, and for her family of six, spent close to $70 on this meal.
A recent visit from De Schutter called for changes to the way First Nations access food.  The first of these would be a reform of the Nutrition North Canada program that subsidizes retailers to serve remote communities. He then called for a structural approach to tackling the socio-economic and cultural barriers to opportunities for those living on reserves that result in their not enjoying fully their right to adequate food. Finally, De Schutter notes that neither the federal Government nor the provinces consider that they have a responsibility to support off-reserve Aboriginal peoples in overcoming the structural discrimination they face; often leading to poverty.
The First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (RHS 2008/10) indicates that 17.8% of First Nation adults aged 25-39 and 16.1% of First Nation adults aged 40-54 reported being hungry but did not eat due to lack of money for food. Comparably, only 7.7% of Canadian households were considered food insecure during 2007-2008.
expensive bananasDe Schutter concluded his United Nations visit by sharing the following insights:  “What I’ve seen in Canada is a system that presents barriers and for the poor to access nutritious diets and that tolerates increased inequalities between rich and poor, and Aboriginal non-Aboriginal peoples.”
The Mennonite Central Committee in Ontario, continue to work in partnership with First communities in the Far North, with the goal being Sustainable, and nutritious options.  Whether it is connecting local farmers in Timmins, ON to Health Services in Attawapiskat, or connecting St. Jacobs Mennonite Church to the King Fisher Lakes community garden, both are working, through community leadership, to access sustainable food. 
For more info contact:
Lyndsay Mollins Koene
Aboriginal Neighbour Coordinator
MCC Ontario
Standing with First Peoples - engaging ourselves, and taking the time to understand the connections between the history, culture and the land belonging to Indigenous people.