Attawapiskat declares state of emergency

The remains of a Canadian flag can be seen flying over a building in Attawapiskat, Ont., on November 29, 2011.The chief of a remote northern Ontario First Nation says more young people have attempted to take their lives. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

ATTAWAPISKAT, Ont. – A remote northern Ontario First Nation has declared a state of emergency after numerous suicide attempts this week.

The Attawapiskat First Nation on James Bay is home to about 2,000 people.

Charlie Angus, the local MP and NDP critic for indigenous affairs, said that there is a suicide epidemic in the community.

Angus called it a “rolling nightmare” of more and more suicide attempts among young people throughout the winter.

The situation led the Attawapiskat chief and council to declare a state of emergency on Saturday.

But Angus says the designation may not have the immediate effects that it would elsewhere.

“If it was declared in any other community, it would have an immediate response,” he says. “I’ve lost count of the states of emergency in the James Bay region since I was elected.”

And he says that, most often, they go unnoticed by the federal government.

A representative from Health Canada said in a written statement that two mental health counsellors have been sent to the community as part of a Nishnawbe Aski Nation crisis response unit.


  1. Race has nothing to do with it. The cost of living up there is extremly high, thats why miners who go up there are paid a fourtune and live in trailers.

    You can’t expect 21st century eminties way out in the sticks. Look how long it took this town to put in a new water treatment plant and how much it cost? What are we supposed to do, pay for one of those for every small reserve up in the north? If it cost 10 million dollars to put in a water plant here it would be at least ten times that to put one in up in the north and ten times the on going maitmence cost.

    Other factors are a small gene pool it would be next to impossible to avoid inbreeding when your looking at populations of only a couple of thousand people if that. The only practical way to exist up there is by living off the land, if you are unwilling to do that then maybe pack up your belongings and move down south.

  2. What more can the government do but keep sending tens of millions to them every year and hope that the new chief and council will hire the appropriate help and disperse it fairly instead of a few living high off the hog and others doing without. When requested to turn over the books for an audit they wouldn’t have any part of it.
    One positive is that Theresa Spence is no longer chief.

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