A remote Manitoba First Nation declared a state of emergency Wednesday after six suicides in the last two months and 140 attempts in the last two weeks alone. Officials from the Pimicikamak Cree Nation, known as Cross Lake, say health workers on the northern reserve can no longer cope. Band councillor Donnie McKay said the nursing station is only staffed by two nurses overnight. “They’re going 24 hours and they’re ready to drop. The community of 8,300 is traumatized and needs immediate help from the provincial and federal governments, McKay said.
A meeting with Manitoba Health Minister Sharon Blady last month resulted in one mental-health worker being sent to the community for an eight-hour shift, he said. “It’s ridiculous,” said McKay, who was called by distraught family members to a home a few days ago to talk a man out of taking his own life. “This wouldn’t happen anywhere else.” Acting Chief Shirley Robinson said the reserve — about 500 kilometres north of Winnipeg near a Manitoba Hydro generating station — has an 80 per cent unemployment rate. READ MORE