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April 28, 2016
Sacha Sewhdat

Continuing our series on the First Nations suicide crisis, we spoke to a Mohawk worship leader and musician dedicated to tearing down the walls of separation and bitterness of the First Nations people.

Jonathan Maracle has been successfully conducting suicide prevention programs all over Canada and the USA. We asked him for more on his thoughts about the suicide problem in First Nations communities across Canada.


Sacha@CONTEXT: Do you see anything different in how the First Nations suicide story is being treated this time?

Jonathan Maracle: Yes, some very different things. The media is reporting the story in such a way that it is not about painting a picture of the Native Council as being bad people who are misusing funds but they are actually talking about the story of the poverty and pain and suffering of the people.

Sacha@CONTEXT: We have seen this story come and go from the media and the mind of the public. How do you stay optimistic?

Jonathan Maracle: Well, I guess it’s because it can only get better.

First, we have God on our side but I think the big thing is that we have these glimmers of hope now. People only respond when the worst case things happen. I realize that bringing in 28,000 refugees from Syria is an important and a humane thing to do but we have people in this country that are the first nations of this country that have lived in, probably, worse poverty than most of those people that are coming over. They are leaving because it’s war torn. But they probably lived reasonable lives up until they had to flee the wars.  

Our people have been living in this abject poverty and living in these places without a vision for so long that they’ve lost hope. That’s why we are seeing these mass suicide attempts because it’s just more than they can take right now.

Sacha@CONTEXT: Jean Chretien has said they (the natives communities) should just leave. Why isn’t that an option?

Jonathan Maracle: I go to Pikangikum all the time and they love their community. They love where they are. They love who they are. They just don’t love the circumstance that they are in.

Everything in the North is backwards. The LCBO, because of equal service, sells acohol for the same price up there that we buy it for down here (Southern Ontario) but if you go up there to buy a quart of milk, it’s 2-3 times the amount. So, to feed your children or to feed your baby is more expensive than to go out and get a bottle of whisky.  

I was approached by an organization to be a representative of it to raise funds for missions. I said, I would be honoured if the missions that it was used for goes to the Native people of Canada. They said that they couldn’t do that because it costs too much to do native outreach in Canada.  

The pathways have been made to get things overseas but the pathways have been ignored that need to be used to help our people in the North.

This is going to take an outreach of not just the churches, not just the government, but it’s going to take an outreach of the people of Canada as well.  They have to decide that it’s time to fix this.

Sacha@CONTEXT: Is this one of those moments where God is moving things, turning things around for good, or are you still just hoping that it is?

Jonathan Maracle: No. I believe that it is and I will take no other course.  I am moving into this as though this is the beginning of the change.  I’m not accepting that it’s just going to quell back down and be quiet because I am going to start screaming very loud from the rooftops until people understand the sorrow, the pain that’s going on here in this country.



Comments

way to go bro...so proud of you..keep pushing, and you will be heard.
June 3, 2016 | Kimberly


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