Growing up in Canada is something I am forever grateful for. However, there is always room for growth. I feel an area for growth lies in improving the quality of life of Indigenous youth in our country. A major issue that haunts the Indigenous community is the high rates of suicide. According to Stats Canada, suicide rates among First Nations people are three times higher than the rate among non-indigenous people. Decisions made throughout Canadian history which focused on forced assimilation of Indigenous communities, have led to where we are today. The effects are being passed on from one generation to another, and sadly this makes it increasingly difficult for younger generations to connect with their ancestry.
Though I am not part of the Indigenous community, I feel that according to Canadian values, and the severity of this issue, it can not be ignored for any longer. My approach to this problem would begin with extensive research to discover the socioeconomic characteristics which are the cause of such high levels of suicide. The government of Canada has identified these factors as “household income, labour force status, level of education, marital status, and geographic factors such as living on or off reserves.” However, solving this problem goes beyond creating a list of issues that affect the Indigenous community. Instead Canadians need to take initiative to understand how these factors originate and the implication on the day to day lives of individuals. As a result, during elections, Canadians can ask more from their governments regarding their approach to these issues.
In the summer of 2022 while I was an intern journalist in Chile, I wrote an article on how Canada has protected its Indigenous people so that policy makers in Chile (who were rewriting their constitution at the time) would have an example to look up to. We may be leaders on the world stage, but that does not mean we can not do more. Though we can not change how history has unfolded, Canadians today have an obligation to shape the future. We need to come together to help those who need a sense of community the most. This begins with respecting the history and land of the Indigenous people, from which we can pave a path for those who are trying to connect with who they are.