MEDIA ADVISORY – R00085
19 April 2016 – Brock University — Communications & Public Affairs
In response to the suicide attempts in the northern First Nations communities of Attawapiskat, Ontario and Cross Lake, Manitoba, the Indigenous Solidarity Coalition at Brock University will be hosting a tobacco ceremony and prayer vigil on Thursday, April 21 from noon to 2 p.m. in front of Schmon Tower.
“We will send our prayers out to communities and together make signs sending good energy and support to the individuals, families and health support workers who are on the front lines of this crisis,” says Indigenous Solidarity Coalition co-chair, Jodielynn Harrison.
Last week, Attawapiskat’s chief declared a state of emergency after 11 suicide attempts in one night. Dozens in the community of less than 2,000 people have attempted to take their own lives this year.
In the northern Manitoba community of Pimicikamak Cree Nation (Cross Lake) with a population of 6,000, more than 140 people attempted or threatened suicide in a recent two-week period.
Most of the deaths or attempted suicides in these communities are youth, of the same age or younger, than most first-year Brock students.
“It’s tragic. These young people need hope, to know there is a future out there worth living for,” says Indigenous Solidarity Coalition co-chair, Celeste Smith.
To put the issue into context, the Brock student population is more than 18,000 ¬— three times the size of Pimicikamak and nine times the size of Attawapiskat.
“If suddenly almost 150 students at Brock attempted suicide in a two-week period, each and every one of us would stop and question why this is happening. How can we support them so this can stop?” says Smith.
The media and the community are invited to join the prayer vigil Thursday, April 21 from noon to 2 p.m. in front of Schmon Tower at Brock University.
NOTE: In addition to the vigil, Brock students and staff are collecting donations for youth in Attawapiskat. New books, arts and craft supplies, new and used baseball gloves, small gardening tools and financial donations to cover shipping costs can be dropped off at Brock University’s Tecumseh Centre (Welch Hall 68).
For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
* Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University firstname.lastname@example.org,
905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970
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