Sudbury·Audio

Attawapiskat chief to meet Trudeau

Attawapiskat chief Bruce Shisheesh will have one hour to convince Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that a long-term solution to the First Nation’s suicide crisis is desperately needed.

All eyes on Chief Shisheesh as a high-level talk with PM hopes to get more health support for Attawapiskat

All eyes are on Attawapiskat chief Bruce Shisheesh as a high-level talk with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled for Monday. (CBC)
The chief of Attawapiskat has secured a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa. Chief Bruce Shisheesh told us what type of commitment he's looking for from the federal government. 8:34
Attawapiskat chief Bruce Shisheesh will have one hour to convince Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that a long-term solution to the First Nation's suicide crisis is desperately needed.

The high level meeting takes place in Ottawa today, two months after a state of emergency was declared in the James Bay community to deal with a surge in suicide attempts.

Although both federal and provincial leaders have committed funds to the remote First Nations since the emergency, many Attawapiskat residents think the problems won't be getting any better until the reserve's cultural values are reflected in the programs.  

The suicide crisis in Attawapiskat has prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet Chief Bruce Shisheesh Monday. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Jackie Hookimaw-Witt said that the Prime Minister needs to consider the roots of the problem before any change is seen.

"I think until we know and understand the cultural issues, the trauma issues, we might continue to have kids falling through the cracks," she said.

Hookimaw-Witt's 13-year-old niece, Sheridan, committed suicide in October 2015.

Since then, dozens of Attawapiskat kids have committed or attempted suicide.

"You need to support these kids, like Sheridan," Hookimaw-Witt said. "She [Sheridan] didn't have much support with her illness, so I think from that we have to learn what Sheridan was lacking and build from that."

With files from Olivia Stefanovich. Edited/packaged by Casey Stranges