Statement from Dr. David Swann on today’s report of the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate (OCYA)

Edmonton, AB (April 25, 2016): Dr. David Swann issued the following statement regarding today’s report of the OCYA on the suicides of seven Aboriginal youth:

“Today’s report from the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate (OCYA) details a tragedy of almost unimaginable scope.

“For the families of the seven Aboriginal youth who ended their lives, the tragedy is personal and my thoughts and prayers go out to all of them.

“For Aboriginal communities dealing with the continued loss of their youth, the pain of these frequent untimely deaths is devastating and tears at the very fabric of their culture.

“The twelve recommendations outlined in the OCYA’s report are timely and to the point. They echo the calls of many previous reports (such as the recently released Mental Health and Addictions Review) for community based services, early intervention and culturally sensitive options for Aboriginals.

“How many more studies and reports need to happen before government finally acts? The report’s inescapable conclusions point a finger directly at the policies of previous governments both provincially and federally. There is no doubt that the prolonged and repeated separation of Aboriginal children from their communities has wreaked havoc down the generations. Today this trauma is felt in poverty, substance abuse, fractured communities and a suicide rate five times the national average.

“While it may take generations for the legacy of residential schools and the ‘60s Scoop’ to finally wash away, there are real and tangible efforts that can be made now to mitigate some of the worst trauma and, perhaps, interrupt this cycle of tragedy and sorrow.

“I urge the Premier and the Ministers of Health, Human Services and Indigenous Relations to implement the recommendations made by the OCYA without further delay”