'Why not move?' 3 First Nations people explain why they're at home on reserve
Residents of northern Ontario First Nation say they're safer, happier at home, despite challenges
There hasn't been safe tap water in Neskantaga First Nation for more than 20 years and up to five families crowd into small homes on the northern Ontario reserve — still residents balk at Jean Chretien's suggestion that "people have to move sometimes."
The former prime minister made the comments last week on the same day that the House of Commons held an emergency debate over suicide attempts in Attawapiskat.
Neskantaga First Nation is also located on the Attawapiskat River and also has a history of suicide. Leaders there declared a state of emergency in 2013 after 27 youth attempted and seven youth committed suicide within 12 months.
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This January, a 14-year-old girl died by suicide. The chief of Neskantaga says the poor living conditions contribute to a sense of hopelessness among the youth. Still, few people want to take Chretien's advice and move away.
CBC News asked three people why they want to stay in Neskantaga. Here are their answers:
Slipperjack said when she visits the city she feels people give her dirty looks that make her feel uncomfortable.
Neal Ostamus, 26, is worried about more than dirty looks in the closest city to Neskantaga. The bodies of five teenagers from remote First Nations have turned up in rivers in Thunder Bay in recent years. Their deaths are unexplained.
Ostamus says when he was younger he thought of Neskantaga as a paradise, but lately he's come to see it more as a "prison camp."
"I started getting lonely and depressed and had nothing to do with all my energy," he said. "They [government] pretty much set us in these places. But it's still home, unfortunately."