Saskatchewan

Children's Advocate Corey O'Soup investigating suicides in northern Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan's new Advocate for Children and Youth just started his new job on Tuesday, but Corey O'Soup is already hard at work.

6 girls have committed suicide in northern Saskatchewan since Oct. 4.

Corey O'Soup says raising five young children "a bonus" in new role. (CBC )

Saskatchewan's new Advocate for Children and Youth just started his new job on Tuesday, but Corey O'Soup is already hard at work.

O'Soup has already visited the province's north and committed his office to conducting a special report into the suicides and mental health issues facing youth in the region.

Six girls between ages 10 and 14 have committed suicide in northern Saskatchewan since Oct. 4.

O'Soup and some of his staff visited La Ronge yesterday to start the conversation with some of the communities that have been affected.

"Our people in the north are very resilient people," said O'Soup. "They wrap around their children when times of crisis comes."

O'Soup said he and his team met with school counsellors and teachers, the mayor of La Ronge, and representatives of the Ministry of Education and the Early Childhood Intervention Program and more.

"They're all there for the kids. Regardless of whether that's their job or not, they're just there for them," said O'Soup.

We don't have the answers in Regina and Saskatoon for the people in the north. We have to make sure that they give us the answers for them.-Corey O'Soup

Investigation

O'Soup said the focus of the investigation is to find the root causes of the issue, to ensure long-term support is committed to the north and to make some recommendations to government that come from the community.

"We don't have the answers in Regina and Saskatoon for the people in the north," said O'Soup. "We have to make sure that they give us the answers for them."

O'Soup came away from his visit with the impression that the front-line workers working with children in the community are overworked.

"It's really hard to retain and recruit workers to the north," he said. "The folks that are there, they're the ones that they do it every day. They never get a break, and they become tired but they never stop working because they just love the kids."

He said that the special report investigation will take at least a few months, and he hopes to partner with organizations like the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in carrying out the investigation.

"Our kids in the north, they need hope. They need a sense of opportunity, that there's something more for them later on in life," he said.

"I don't have all the answers, but I think that's part of it."

With files from The Morning Edition

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