People in Attawapiskat will take on the difficult subject of suicide this week.

To gather more information about what may be pushing people to take their own lives, the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council has been holding hearings in a number of northern communities.

Hearings will be held in the James Bay coast community this week for what's being called the “People's Inquiry.”


Mike Metatawabin is the lead commissioner for the hearings into First Nations suicide. The hearings are being held by the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council. (Jody Porter/CBC)

“There's a lot of unresolved grief,” said Mike Metatawabin, lead commissioner for the hearings.

“There's so many issues. It's all compounded, making it hard for people to deal with. It [also] makes it harder for the communities to try to get a handle on it.”

No recent data was available on the number of people in Mushkegowuk territory who have attempted or died by suicide in recent years, but in 2009 and 2010, the issue received a lot of attention in Moose Factory, after five young people took their own lives.

As Metatawabin has listened to the stories in each community, he said “it's been emotional. It's been an eye-opener. But more importantly it's been a healing process, I believe.”

Sessions have already been held in several communities including Moosonee, Moose Factory, and Fort Albany. Hearings will also be held in Kashechewan and Chapleau Cree First Nation next month.

When the hearings are finished, the Tribal Council will produce a report with proposed solutions.