The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's second national event is wrapping up Friday in Inuvik, N.W.T., with many delegates renewing their call for better mental health support services for everyone, not just residential school survivors, in remote northern communities.
"We lost hundreds of young people to suicide because there was not enough mental health facilities to respond to their needs," Jack Anawak, who volunteers for a crisis line in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, said Thursday.
"They were not mentally handicapped. They just had some problems that they had to deal with, which could have been dealt with through [a] mental health co-ordinator or mental health people."
Nick Sibbeston, a Liberal senator for the Northwest Territories and himself a former residential school student, said the federal Conservative government should not have cut funding for the Aborginal Healing Foundation.
That put an end to many community programs designed to help former students. Instead, the government provided $65 million over the next two years for Health Canada to run the programs.