"Save culture, Save Lives," First Nations youth tell Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services in meeting and report on suicide, marking June 21st, National Aboriginal Day.
TORONTO, June 20 /CNW/ - On the tenth anniversary of National Aboriginal Day, youth representatives from the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Decade Youth Council will be meeting with the Hon. Mary Anne Chambers, Ontario's Minister of Children and Youth Services, to present their own report on the suicide epidemic in the 49 NAN communities in northwestern Ontario.
The statistics reported by NAN are shocking:
At the hour-long roundtable discussion with the minister, six young people will present a clear picture of suicide in their communities; what they feel are some of the contributing factors; and how they have been working to prevent it.
One of the most important strategies in the NAN Decade Youth Council's prevention efforts is a "Save culture, Save lives" approach that emphasizes the documented "protective" and positive effects that a strong cultural identity has on Aboriginal youth. Members of the NAN Decade Youth Council have created several youth-driven programs that incorporate practices such as healing ceremonies and the teaching of traditional hand drumming.
The minister will also be presented with a report, The Seventh Generation Helping to Heal: Nishnawbe Aski Youth and the Suicide Epidemic. This report was written by several members of the youth council and is both a compelling message of hope and an urgent call to action.
The meeting with the minister is part of a larger initiative to raise awareness about suicide and the current state of mental health in Northwestern First Nations communities. This project, spearheaded by Voices for Children, focuses on involving youth; linking efforts of researchers, mental health providers and community members; and developing a communications plan to drive action-oriented recommendations.
For more information, read the full report, The Seventh Generation Helping to Heal: Nishnawbe Aski Youth and the Suicide Epidemic at http://www.voicesforchildren.ca/report-Jun2006-1.htm
Voices for Children is an independent organization dedicated to turning knowledge into action for the well-being of Ontario's young people. www.voicesforchildren.ca
For further information: To arrange an interview with members of the NAN Decade Youth Council (www.nandecade.ca) on Tuesday, June 20 after 3:00 p.m. or Wednesday, June 21, please contact: Fiona Irvine-Goulet, Editor, Voices for Children, Phone: (416) 482-6694, Mobile: (647) 226-6694, firstname.lastname@example.org; Patty Chabbert, Project Coordinator, Voices for Children, Phone: (416) 544-0941, Mobile: (416) 606-0941, email@example.com
What is it going to take to help young people to choose to stay or return to Northern Ontario to live and work?
NOW there is an opportunity for young people to be heard! Complete the survey located at http://www.mndm.gov.on.ca/ndc/youth_e.asp and send in your thoughts before July 28, 2006.
The Northern Development Councils (NDCs - www.ndc.gov.on.ca) are working with the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to bring forward recommendations to create opportunities for youth that will address the issue of youth out-migration in Northern Ontario.
NDC members worked with northern youth to develop a series of proposed strategies to engage youth in their communities and improve education, training and employment opportunities in Northern Ontario. The NDCs would now like to hear from everyone on on the proposed strategies developed so far. These strategies are contained in a discussion paper that can be found at http://www.mndm.gov.on.ca/ndc/documents/ndc_youth_document_e.pdf
In summary, these strategies include three main goals ...
Engaging Youth in Their Communities
The proposed strategies are designed to create young leaders and involve them in decision-making. NDCs saw opportunities for young northerners, including the growing Aboriginal youth population, to contribute new ideas and perspectives that are key to diversifying the northern economy and building stronger northern communities.
Objective 1) Northern Ontario youth are involved in leadership and development opportunities.
Objective 2) Northern Ontario youth have a voice in community and government decisions that affect them.
Objective 3) Northern youth can find affordable housing, transportation and recreational opportunities in their communities.
Improving Training and Education Opportunities
The proposed strategies are aimed at increasing the awareness and availability of training and education opportunities in the North for current and future employment opportunities. New and/or expanded programs, use of technology and strategic promotion of northern employment or career opportunities are expected to increase the number of youth (particularly at-risk youth or new northerners) who will seek training and education in Northern Ontario.
Objective 4) Northern Ontario youth are trained to meet the current and future needs of northern employers.
Objective 5) Young people view training and education in Northern Ontario as an attractive choice.
Objective 6) Northern Ontario youth have access to more distance education programs in their communities.
Enhancing Employment Opportunities
The creation of new jobs is a priority shared by almost every northern community. There is a growing sense that Northern Ontario’s future prosperity rests on taking greater advantage of opportunities in the new economy, in such activities as research, innovation, technology, information technology and communication, green energy and education. The NDCs propose strategies that would encourage young people to pursue or create their own new opportunities in existing or key growth areas.
Objective 7) New economy jobs are created in Northern Ontario.
Objective 8) Northern Ontario youth are successfully starting their own businesses.
REMEMBER to complete the survey located at http://www.mndm.gov.on.ca/ndc/youth_e.asp and send in your thoughts before July 28, 2006.
BE SURE to help other young people in your community to complete this survey!