PSAC in solidarity with Attawapiskat

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, along with its National Aboriginal Peoples’ Network, expresses its ongoing solidarity with the people of Attawapiskat in Northern Ontario.

"All Canadians must come together and make things right for the people of Attawapiskat and for Indigenous peoples across the country,” said Robyn Benson, PSAC National President.

PSAC Ontario Regional Executive Vice-President Sharon Desousa said in a statement, “like so many other indigenous communities, Attawapiskat grapples with limited health services and high unemployment, poor water quality and sanitation, inadequate housing and infrastructure and the intergenerational impacts of colonialism and the residential school system.”

Benson and DeSousa also called for implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission without delay.

Suicide epidemic

  • Over the past few months, over one third of the Attawapiskat population under the age of 19 has been caught in an unprecedented suicide epidemic
  • There were 11 suicide attempts in a single night, and nearly 30 in the month of March alone

Suicide is the leading cause of death of Indigenous people under the age of 45, six times higher than non-indigenous people.

Why is this happening? 

This is Attawapiskat’s fifth state of emergency since 2006. In 2011, NDP MP Charlie Angus drew attention to this community with a video demonstrating the terrible living conditions on the reserve.

Human rights win at Attawapiskat

The situation led to the courageous efforts of young Shannen Koostachin who built a proper school in Attawapiskat and spawned the case of Dr. Cindy Blackstock and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

At the tribunal, the federal government was recently found guilty of failing to provide the same level of child welfare services that exist elsewhere in the country.

Important for PSAC

This crisis in Attawapiskat hits close to home for PSAC. We represent members in Attawapiskat and all along the James Bay Coast in communities such as Moosenee and Moose Factory. They have brought attention to the harsh living in conditions brought about by successive federal governments.

Call to action

The PSAC calls on members and all Canadians to send an email to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voicing concern with the situation in Attawapiskat.

April 18, 2016