Leaders with the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation are reaching out to find solutions following recent suicides and attempts in their community.

Three people, including a 10-year-old girl, took their lives last month, prompting the First Nation to declare a state of crisis and emergency. On Tuesday, First Nation leadership met with Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River MP Gary Vidal.

Vidal, who identified mental health as a broader issue for him to advocate for, said all levels of government need to find solutions that address this big challenge.

“I think we need to find ways to say, ‘Hey, how do we best attack this very real challenge head-on and how do we get to the root of it,’” asked Vidal. “Sometimes it’s more important to deal with the root issue, then always addressing the symptoms. So, we need to make sure we understand what that is or what those issues are, and then make sure we try to move forward with solutions that attack the root causes of those issues.”

Last week, Chief Ronald Mitsuing said he was disappointed following a meeting with several government ministers and the premier, as he wanted quicker action on developing a province-wide suicide prevention strategy.

“It is disappointing to hear what he said,” Mitsuing said. “Things are happening now. They can’t wait anymore. Kids are losing their lives, if they keep waiting, it’s going to happen again.”

The province said it was conducting a jurisdictional scan to identify gaps and best practices in other suicide prevention strategies and action plans.

(PHOTO: Makwa Sahgaiehcan Chief Ronald Mitsuing. Photo by Dan Jones.)