Saskatchewan

Former northern Saskatchewan educator devastated by recent suicides

Russell Paskimen thinks struggling communities need to look at the heart of the issue, rather than working on Band-Aid solutions.

'When you work in those communities, the problem of one is the problem of all,' says Russell Paskimen

Former northern Saskatchewan educator Russell Paskimen said communities like Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation need more resources for their youth. (CBC News)

A former educator in northern Saskatchewan thinks struggling communities need to look at the heart of the issue, rather than working on Band-Aid solutions. 

"When you work in those communities, the problem of one is the problem of all," said Russell Paskimen, an aboriginal advocate teacher at Sheldon-Williams Collegiate in Regina.

Previously, Paskimen taught at the school on Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation. He's a former teacher of the 13-year-old girl who took her life there last week.

He's still in contact with former students, and was heavily affected by the recent string of suicides by young girls in northern Saskatchewan communities.

"When you see the children from the northern communities and you teach them and affect the community in a positive way, and then to hear about a tragic loss like that, it's devastating," said Paskimen.

Although communities like Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation have worked on healing and reclaiming their culture through language and traditional practices, Paskimen said there are problems that are out of people's control.

He noted water quality, access to food and addictions. He said he would sometime see students always wearing the same clothes.

Paskimen said, "Every community up there has their struggles."

With files from CBC Radio's Morning Edition

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