A La Ronge man who helped organize the Walking with Our Angels campaign is responding to the provincial government passing suicide prevention legislation.

Christopher Merasty, who is also the founder of Men of the North, said when he heard about the legislation being passed he experienced a number of emotions.

“I was very overwhelmed with excitement and just the, you know, possibilities and idea that, the amount of lives that this bill is going to save now that it is law,” he said.

The Saskatchewan Party government voted last week to pass the legislation proposed by Cumberland NDP MLA Doyle Vermette, the legislation called on the province to create a suicide prevention strategy. The government had voted down the legislation on two previous occasions.

Merasty spoke to MBC Radio News while he was on a break from a training session dealing with grief. He said many of the participants at the training course are excited about what the legislation could bring.

“They’re all looking forward to seeing some of the benefits that are going to come with this bill,” he said.

Looking back at the Walking with Our Angels campaign, which saw Tristen Durocher walk from the Northern Village of Air Ronge to the grounds of the legislature in Regina, where he fasted for 44 days to bring attention to the suicide crisis in the north, Merasty said the campaign had a real impact.

“One of the most powerful things that ever really came out of Saskatchewan and having our youth talking about it at their schools with their friends, it was really heard,” he said.

Merasty added when they were on the grounds of the legislature they heard from people who were from as far away as South Africa and Asia, who offered their support.

Overall Merasty said it is an optimistic time for those working on suicide prevention after the passing of the legislation as it will lead to more resources becoming available.

“It’s got so much potential, so much momentum,” he said.

Going forward Merasty said Men of the North will be continuing their work to build themselves up as an organization in La Ronge. He said eventually the group is hoping to expand to other communities.

“Hopefully eventually with time and the right supports and the right resources and the right tools in place we will have our support program in every community in northern Saskatchewan,” he said.

(Tristen Durocher & Chris Merasty, walking from La Ronge to Regina: Photo by Brandon White)