PRIORITIES: As Trudeau Travels Globe, Northern Suicides Surge

Before starting the G-20 Summit, Justin Trudeau headed to the “global citizen” festival to grab some more international headlines.

As always, he promoted a plan to “help” foreign countries – paid for by Canadian taxpayers.

And as always, the international and national press gave him what he wanted: Pathetically supportive and fawning coverage.

Meanwhile, something here at home got way less coverage, and way less money: The continuing spate of youth suicides in Northern Canada.

In the last week, two 12-year-old children from Pikangikum First Nation took their own lives. A 15-year-old girl from Nibinamik killed herself last week as well, and a young man also took his own life.

Unfortunately, these suicides are a tragic continuation of a horrible trend in Northern Canada. In fact, Pikangikum is considered the “suicide capital of the world,” due to the massive percentage of the population that have taken their own lives.

According to one report, things are so bad in parts of northern Canada that “Children as young as 10 are patrolling Wapekeka First Nation,” to try and stop their friends from committing suicide.

Misplaced priorities

Those who live in Northern Canada First Nations have brought up housing and infrastructure as key problems, as there is a continuing shortage of housing – and an almost total absence of quality housing – in many communities.

Charlie Angus – an MP who represents much of Northern Ontario – told the Toronto Star that “Chronic underfunding for Indigenous education, on-reserve infrastructure, and mental health supports are all driving up the death toll.”

He added, “These funding decisions have consequences, and those consequences are being counted in lives.”

Angus is correct. Like any organization, the federal government has a limited amount of money. Therefore it must make choices. And those in power must make choices. Every dollar we spend outside the country is a dollar we can’t spend in our own country.

It is simply unacceptable that we have a massive surge of suicides in Northern Canada, and we have communities without quality housing and infrastructure, while our Prime Minister is simultaneously trotting around the globe pledging money and soaking up the headlines.

This is really very simple: Our leaders owe nothing to the world. They owe everything to Canadians. We need to fix our own serious problems instead of giving money away outside our country. Instead of travelling the world seeking worthless global praise, those in power – including the Prime Minister – should be on the ground in these communities, holding emergency meetings, building infrastructure, getting rid of regulations to create more resource jobs, and overall treating this as the national emergency it is.

The world can take care of itself. The government must put our country and our citizens above all else.

Spencer Fernando

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