This is a collection of resources and knowledge about Indigenous suicide, gathered together here to make them more effectively accessible – so that people can know about them, and are able to use them to provide support to individuals, communities, organizations, and ‘allies’ who can take action.

I hope this page – the work, analysis, and tools it features – is able to reach those who can benefit from it. For those who assemble resources for others, curate lists, etc, I ask that you consider including this page / these resources.

There are different perspectives and analysis contained here, some perhaps even contradicting, but I think that overall, they can complement each other in supporting people to a more comprehensive basis for understanding and action.

It is organized into sections:

  • Articles
  • Multi-media (audio and video)
  • PDFs / Printable documents
  • Miscellaneous / more

** Page last updated July 20, 2021 **

This issue may be triggering / emotionally difficult – available supports include:

  • Hope For Wellness Help Line, for Indigenous peoples across Canada, at 1-855-242-3310 or via online chat;
  • National Indian Residential School Crisis Line, for those impacted by residential schools, at 1-866-925-4419;
  • We Matter (Indigenous youth) web site and web page of supports.

Articles:

 

  • On World Suicide Prevention Day, Inuit leaders talk about the lack of support (2011)
    * originally published at rabble.ca

    This is a report from the annual WSPD event at Parliament Hill led by Inuit youth, themed “Celebrate Life.” It features quotes and explanation from then-president of National Inuit Youth Council, Jennifer Watkins, and then-president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (and now Governor General), Mary Simon, along with statistical information, links, and featured resources.

 

  • Addressing the Epidemic Crises of Indigenous Suicide in Canada (2018)
    * originally published as Indigenous people fighting to live through community and activism at Ricochet.media, and later a slightly updated version Indigenous Suicide in Canada at CounterPunch.org

    This article is primarily focused on the research work of Roland Chrisjohn and Shaunessy McKay,  published as the book “Dying To Please You: Indigenous Suicide in Contemporary Canada.” Chrisjohn is perhaps most known for his work on residential schools: “The Circle Game” is a book he published in the late ’90s with different graduate students as co-authors (it was originally written for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, but then rejected apparently for being ‘too harsh’ on the perpetrators). Being familiar with that work, I wanted to profile this analysis on suicide which centres an analysis of colonialism and is critical of the inadequate approaches of mainstream mental health and political functionaries.

    The article also features the work of We Matter, a by-and-for Indigenous youth organization created in 2016 focused on preventing suicide, that hosted a cross-Canada gathering early 2018 in Ottawa. It also looks at the federal government discriminatory underfunding of services for Indigenous children, and features a private member’s bill in parliament that was pushing for a national suicide prevention strategy.

 

  • Indigenous suicide crisis in Canada: New StatsCan research provides deeper picture (2019)
    * published as Canada’s Indigenous suicide crisis is worse that we thought at National Observer

    Researching for the 2018 article above, it became very apparent there was a lack of comprehensive data on Indigenous suicide in Canada (and other places). But through outreach I learned of the forthcoming report from StatsCan, and then put together this article in 2019 after the report was published. I wanted to ensure that there was an accessible and in-depth summary look into the report and what the data said. This article is based on the report and the data therein, as well as a series of interviews with the lead researcher for the report.

    In terms of content, alongside the data findings – which I won’t attempt to summarize here – the article looks at the process of producing the report, how the census works in collecting data, differences between Inuit, Métis, and First Nations, the way that social determinants of health can be measured and, statistically-speaking, ‘adjusted’ for in terms of suicide rates, and – importantly – a note about the value of looking at the situation not only in terms of a problem- or deficit-focus, but with balance, for example, by including community strengths and success stories.


 

Multi-Media:

* Audio:

Listen via the embedded player, or click the time/length for the mp3 file

  • Two interviews from the Inuit 2011 Celebrate Life / World Suicide Prevention Day event in Ottawa at Parliament Hill:

    Mary Simon, the then-president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and now (2021+) Governor General of Canada (6:37)

    Jessica Munick (nee Watkins), the then-president of National Inuit Youth Council, and now (2015+) chair of the Kativik Regional Government (6:34)


  • “Dying To Please You” book talk 2014 – Roland Chrisjohn (mostly) and Shaunessy McKay – 110min talk and 30min audience Q&A
    *recorded + originally published by Asaf Rashid, From The Margins podcast


  • We Matter’s 2018 Hope Forum, interview with WM co-founder Kelvin Redvers and participants Olivia Haines (Alexis Creek, BC) and Natasha Cunningham (Peavine Métis Settlement, AB) — (12min)


  • Groundwire Radio News segments, 2018 (5min) and 2019 (2min), based on the two featured articles above, respectively.

 

* Video:

  • 2013 interview with National Aboriginal Health Organization CEO Simon Brascoupe, on the shut down of the organization because of funding cuts
    * HIGHLIGHT: While this interview doesn’t speak directly about suicide, it does talk about the need for a holistic approach rather than only looking at one issue (2:00-4:15), as well as the importance of trusted sources of information (15:00-) , and the effectiveness of youth peer communication.

    *WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdioIIglri8

  • We Matter Campaign videos
    * These are selected to accompany the audio interview above:
    What is We Matter (ft. Kelvin & Tunchai Redvers)
    Natasha CunninghamOlivia Haines

  • Roland Chrisjohn talk in 2018 on “The Psychiatrization of Indigenous People as a Continuation of Genocide (60 min full video)
    * The late Bonnie Burstow – who gives the intro – was responsible for organizing the event as well as recording/publishing the video. She wrote a report on the talk here at rabble.ca. Note the mention of how Chrisjohn’s commissioned work on residential schools for RCAP was rejected for being critical of the Catholic Church (discussed just after the 29min point in the full video).
    * I pulled a short highlight segment together (3min) that focuses on the issue of Indigenous suicide – though the rest of it is also very relevant. Watch the short segment embedded here:

    *WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz0mEQe41Kc

 


 

PDFs

For printing, to use as handouts and other in-person or offline distribution.

 

 

  • Indigenous suicide crisis in Canada: New StatsCan research provides deeper picture:
    2019 article on either 8.5″x11″ (4-page) or 11″x17″ (2-page, i.e. prints double-sided onto 1 page)

 

  • The full book “Dying To Please You: Indigenous Suicide in Contemporary Canada” – featured in the 2018 article – is made available free online in PDF format by the authors, Roland Chrisjohn and Shaunessy McKay, at both researchgate.net and academia.edu (the latter site requires an account for downloading). The in-print version is available via the publisher, Theytus Books. 

 

 


 

Miscellaneous / More…

Two other relevant collections of resources I’ve put together, coming soon:

  • Residentials Schools and some local Indigenous History page
    ** Coming soon… For now, some select pieces:

    • Addressing the Lasting Legacy of Residential Schools
      Report from the 2013 Truth and Reconciliation Commission national event in Montreal, including video interviews with Murray Sinclair and Barney Williams.

    • Podcast: History of the Ottawa River Watershed
      An 78min audio recording of a 2015 presentation by Peter Di Gangi, historian and research director for the Algonquin Nation Secretariat

    • Film: The Invisible Nation
      A 98min film released in 2007 about the Algonquin Nation. We hosted the premiere screening in Ottawa, with an opening from the revered Elder William Commanda. Directed by Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie, produced by the National Film Board, available online free streaming.