First Nations Leaders Call on Canada to Send Support and Resources for Meth Crisis in God’s Lake First Nation
November 14, 2022
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), God’s Lake First Nation’s Chief Hubert Watt, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO), Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Manitoba, Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO), Keewatin Tribal Council (KTC), and Chemawawin Cree Nation’s Chief Clarence Easter Call on Canada to Send Support and Resources for Meth Crisis in God’s Lake First Nation
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba –The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), God’s Lake First Nation’s Chief Hubert Watt, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO), Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Manitoba, Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO), Chemawawin Cree Nation’s Chief Clarence Easter, and Keewatin Tribal Council (KTC) issues this statement following the press conference held yesterday in support of God’s Lake First Nation. In unity, the First Nations Leadership called on the government to provide immediate support and resources to address the state of emergency initially declared on October 4th, 2022, a crisis that has continued to escalate since. God’s Lake First Nation holds 1500 citizens, 20-30% of whom are currently experiencing drug addiction and are in a crisis of epidemic proportions.
“We cannot be embarrassed. Our communities have many traumas that we are still healing from. This is a result of that trauma,” said God’s Lake First Nation Chief Hubert Watt. “We have called upon the provincial and federal governments for help over and over. They continue to ignore the lives being lost and the trauma being inflicted. We cannot stand by silently when our First Nation is in distress. We call on Indigenous Services Canada to help us. To provide the resources required to build treatments centres our community needs and hire the health care staff to help us heal.”
Keewatin Tribal Council Grand Chief Walter Wastesicoot said, “God’s Lake First Nation declared a state of emergency on October 4th, and now, forty-two days later, there has been no response from the government. This is unacceptable.”
“It is deeply concerning that God’s Lake First Nation has been calling for assistance for over 6 weeks,” stated AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “Due to years of inadequate funding for accessible mental health supports, addiction treatment, primary care, education, housing and recreation, God’s Lake First Nation and its citizens are experiencing a humanitarian crisis. The First Nation desperately needs immediate interventions from both provincial and federal levels of government to immediately provide life-saving supports such as crisis response teams, mental health professionals, and human resources for the nursing station.”
“The consequences from a lack of immediate action and intervention will always be at the expense of First Nation lives. Our Nations have lost enough, and they continue to pay for the government’s inaction,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee. ” Due to inadequate public health, we will continue to see the detrimental effects of prolonged drug use, including late-stage diagnoses of life-threatening diseases. God’s Lake First Nation deserves better. Our First Nations people deserve better. It is imperative that God’s Lake First Nation receives the support they have repeatedly asked for. MKO remains committed in declaring that a whole of government response is required in order to address the ongoing state of emergency that was declared by the God’s Lake First Nation.”
“The leadership has bravely come forward to share their experience that many of our First Nations also struggle with,” said AFN Regional Grand Chief Cindy Woodhouse. “It is evident to First Nations leadership that the government’s failure is preventing the care and rights of First Nations. Failure of the government to allow First Nations to exercise self-determination and implement sovereign health initiatives is a barrier to First Nation citizens’ health and holistic healing. We have heard directly from First Nations leadership for years that this substance abuse crisis is something they have been dealing with for too long.”
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Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) people.