Quebec Innu leaders welcome public inquiry into suicide of young woman

Quebec Innu leaders welcome public inquiry into suicide of young woman

MONTREAL — Community leaders and the family of a young Innu woman who committed suicide in northern Quebec welcomed news Monday that the provincial government had ordered a coroner’s inquest into her death.

Nadeige Guanish is one of five people who have killed themselves over the past year in the small community of 4,000 located 650 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.

Chief Mike McKenzie of the Uashat mak Mani-Utenam Innu band said the five suicides in his small town on Quebec’s north shore is similar in scale to 12,000 people killing themselves provincewide.

“Nadeige Guanish is one more name on list of suicides that is too long,” he told reporters. “It’s one too many. It has to be the last one.”

Marie-Luce Jourdain, Guanish’s aunt and the family spokeswoman, says authorities need to reflect on the problems plaguing young people in the community.

“Nadeige’s suicide is a symptom of a larger problem that needs to be solved,” Jourdain said. “We have to find solutions to make sure this doesn’t happen again — there have been too many already.”

Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau, who is interim public security minister, asked the province’s chief coroner, Catherine Rudel-Tessier, to convene an inquiry into the causes and circumstances surrounding Guanish’s death.

“The coroner needs to shed light on this sad event to better understand the problems tied to suicide and suicide attempts in the native community of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam,” Moreau said in a statement.

McKenzie said the province can take immediate steps to improve life in his community, such as increasing financing for policing and offering more resources for suicide prevention.

“Our youth have a right to an environment that is healthy and secure,” he said.

McKenzie also invited Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with the community, to demonstrate he is willing to act when it comes to aboriginal issues.

The Canadian Press

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