Suicide Prevention among Indigenous Youth

Press release from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

March 4, 2020 — Iqaluit, Nunavut — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Suicide is a serious public health issue that impacts people of all ages and backgrounds and is a significant issue in Canada’s North and Arctic.  Suicide prevention among Indigenous youth is a responsibility for all, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. Engaging in dialogue to reduce stigma around mental health and focus on hope, help and healing plays a vital role in suicide prevention. This is why Canada is promoting the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group’s initiative, Project CREATeS, which focuses on suicide prevention among Indigenous youth in the circumpolar north, and supports the next CREATeS project iteration, Local2Global.

By supporting Project CREATeS’ innovative social media campaign, the Government of Canada wants to raise awareness of the ongoing and important conversation about mental health and wellness, as told in a series of informational videos produced by Indigenous youth from Canada and beyond.

Today, the Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs is in Iqaluit to meet with President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada, Monica Ell-Kanayuk, to view videos by local producers for Project CREATeS.

We believe that a holistic, Indigenous-specific and, community-driven approach that supports individual, family and community healing is the best way to address mental illness and suicide amongst Indigenous youth. Ways forward must address the legacy of Residential Schools, the Sixties’ Scoop, and other devastating impacts of colonization, while focusing on social determinants of health, such as self-determination, employment, and housing.


“As identified in the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, nurturing healthy families and communities is a priority for the Government of Canada. I am proud to support Project CREATeS. I am looking forward to working with our partners in Canada and around the world to end poverty and hunger, homelessness and overcrowding, and strengthening mental and physical wellbeing to prevent suicide in the Canadian and circumpolar north.”

The Honourable Daniel Vandal, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Northern Affairs

“We all have a role to play in supporting individuals, families, and communities who are striving to make a difference in people’s lives. I commend the youth for their courage and strength to lead by example and promote hope, belonging, meaning and purpose. Your voice is very important in the conversation around suicide prevention. Thank you for sharing your stories and ideas to make positive changes to end the stigma around mental illness and improve the lives of those in your communities and abroad.”

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

“The Arctic Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) has been supporting projects related to suicide prevention and mental health in the Arctic for over a decade. Canada, as a member of the SDWG, has been an important leader in this work. We are proud and honoured to have the opportunity to the share powerful stories told by Indigenous youth in the videos they produced as part of Project CREATeS. The SDWG is committed to continuing this work.  Our newest initiative, Local2Global, will build on this important work.”

Stefán Skjaldarson
Chair of the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group

Quick facts

  • Indigenous Services Canada’s Mental Wellness Program is investing approximately $425 million this year to support mental wellness services in First Nations and Inuit communities.
  • Through Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada’s Circumpolar Directorate, approximately $240,000 has been invested over two fiscal years (2017-18 and 2018-19) to support the Sustainable Development Working Group’s CREATeS Project. In addition, in 2020, $170,000 has been allocated for Local 2 Global which is the next iteration or follow-on project CREATeS.

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For more information, media may contact:

Allison St.Jean
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Daniel Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Vanessa Adams
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

Media Relations
Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group
Jennifer Spence (PhD)
Executive Secretary
Sustainable Development Working Group

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Date of publication: 4 Mar 2020

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