Rally held in Calgary to support youth of Attawapiskat

About 100 people gathered in downtown Calgary to show solidarity with youth in the northern community of Attawapiskat as it grapples with a suicide crisis.

Attawapiskat is a 'reflection of what is happening across Canada,' says organizer Chantal Chagnon

The rally was held Sunday afternoon at Olympic Plaza in Calgary. (Julien Lecacheur/CBC)

About 100 people gathered in downtown Calgary to show solidarity with the community of Attawapiskat as it grapples with a suicide crisis.

"I cry out for the youth because I've been there, I know it," says one of the event organizers, Chantal Chagnon, who also had suicidal thoughts as a teenager.

"We have to inspire these youth to find who they are and connect to their roots because without solid roots, we cannot grow," she said.

Event organizer Chantal Chagnon says the crisis in Attawapiskat is a reflection of what is happening across Canada. (Kate Adach/CBC)

The community's suicide crisis keeps growing, with more than 100 people having attempted to take their lives this winter.

The community, on James Bay in remote northern Ontario, declared a state of emergency a week ago after 11 of its members attempted suicide in one weekend and 28 tried to do so in March.

"Attawapiskat has really had such staggering numbers, but it's really a reflection of what is happening across Canada," Chagnon told CBC News.

She, like others at the rally, said it's a "social responsibility" for all Canadians to address.

Kaiden Tajiri says she came to the rally in Calgary to show there are non-indigenous people who care. (Kate Adach/CBC)

"A big problem in our society is that non-indigenous people in our society do not care - even though we share this land together," said Kaiden Tajiri, a non-indigenous woman from Calgary who wanted to show support.

Regional, provincial and federal governments have sent support and crisis workers to the community in response to the state of emergency.

The Ontario government has pledged $2 million over the next two years for health support and a youth centre for the community.

With files from the CBC’s Kate Adach


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