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Montreal Suicide Conference

BY Nation Editors Apr 16, 2024

Laughter rang out and tears flowed at the Waskaganish Wellness Society’s conference on suicide this past March. The event took place at the Sheraton

Hotel’s swanky downtown Montreal complex and was attended by Eeyou, Innu, Anishnabe, Mohawk, Cayuga and Oneida from across Canada. There were presentations and workshops by Indigenous mental health professionals. Painful stories were shared by several attendees who had experienced the trauma of suicide, incest and violence which moved many in the audience to tears.

But it was not all doom and gloom. During the banquet on Thursday evening the hungry crowd was enter- tained by Nashville’s Dave Fenley. Fenley’s claim to fame is having appeared on America’s Got Talent and The Voice. Chisasibi’s own Cree Rising also performed versions from U2’s catalogue as well aa Paul Napash’s original compostions. Two members of Cree Rising’s members could not make the trip to Montreal so John Henry Wapachee filled in “slappin’ da bess.”

Hours before a frightening episode occurred when the translator for the Obedjiwan delegation announced that his 19-year-old daughter had been missing for several hours. The young woman had been last heard from on a Snapchat post in the company of strangers somewhere in the city. Fortunately there were several women in attendance who were involved in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) movement who advised the distraught young father on what to do. The following day the young woman had been tracked down by the father and the police through her mobile phone.

On the last day as the event was winding down the crowd grew excited when Nina Diamond, one of the conference organizers, announced that the world renowned trauma expert Dr. Gabor Mate would be speaking at the Society’s Ottawa gathering in late May.

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Will Nicholls, Lyle Stewart & Martin Siberok are the editors of the Nation magazine.