Montreal

Uashat-Maliotenam inquiry: coroner eager to make recommendations

The coroner’s public inquiry into five suicides in Uashat-Maliotenam has led to the promise of “clear and precise” recommendations to prevent future hardship in the community.

Community members say more financial resources needed to help those going through difficult periods

The Innu community of Uashat-Maliotenam has been the site of 44 suicides since 1994. (Radio-Canada)

The coroner's public inquiry into five suicides in Uashat-Maliotenam, a remote Innu community, has led to the promise of "clear and precise" recommendations to prevent future hardship in the community.

The corner, Bernard Lefrançois, said he was shaken by what he heard. He intends to get to work on making his recommendations as soon as possible.

"The quicker it gets out, the quicker we can take action and save lives," Lefrançois said.

The inquiry ended after two weeks of testimony from friends and family of the five people who killed themselves in the Innu community near Sept-Îles, Que. in 2015.

The report is due to be made public in the fall.

Coroner Bernard Lefrançois leaves after two weeks of public inquiry into the 2015 suicides. (Diana Gonzalez/Radio-Canada)

Community members make recommendations

Jean-François Bertrand, the lawyer for four of the five families, submitted 44 recommendations about how to prevent future suicides in the community.

He also suggested seven more workers be hired at a local centre to support the families affected by suicide.

Members of the health and education community want to see a strengthening of Innu culture and investment in services for children.

The idea of using social media to identify people at risk of committing suicide, as well as creating a support line in the Innu language, were presented by members of the community as well.

History of suicides

Uashat-Maliotenam has a population of 4,500 and has lost 44 people to suicide since 1994. In 2015 five people took their own life during a nine-month span.

The death in October 2015 of Nadeige Guanish, an 18-year-old mother, was the fifth and final suicide before the coroner's inquest was announced.

Premier Philippe Couillard said at the time that he hoped its findings would offer lessons to prevent future tragedies. 

with files from Radio-Canada

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