Prime Minister visits James Smith Cree Nation, announces mental health supports for those affected by tragic September attacks

Prime Minister visits James Smith Cree Nation, announces mental health supports for those affected by tragic September attacks

JAMES SMITH CREE NATIONSask., November 28, 2022 /CNW/ – The events described below are wide-ranging and deeply impactful. If you need someone to talk to, the Hope for Wellness Helpline offers support for all Indigenous people. Advisors are available by phone or online chat. This service is offered in English and French and, upon request, in Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut. Call the toll-free support line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to online chat at

In September, the horrific attacks which killed 11 people and injured 18 others in Cree Nation by James Smith and the neighboring community of Weldon, Sask., shocked Canadians from coast to coast. We have come together to mourn those who lost their lives and support their loved ones. The government of Canada continues to support community members coping with the loss and trauma of this tragic and senseless violence.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeauvisited today Cree Nation by James Smith meet with community leaders, families of victims and survivors and announce $62.5 million over six years, starting this year, and $4.5 million underway to support the healing, mental health and well-being of community members affected by the tragic events of September, and to support Indigenous-led approaches to community safety. Everyone should have access to the kind of support they need, and today we are taking action to improve access to culturally appropriate mental health and addictions care for people of Cree Nation by James Smith.

With this new funding, $42.5 million will help support mental wellness and healing, including the construction of a new wellness center in the community and the repurposing of the existing Sakwatamo Lodge. It will also allow Cree Nation by James Smith develop and design programs that best meet the needs of their members, including improving access to mental health, trauma and addictions services. This will ensure that immediate and long-term supports are available to Cree Nation by James Smith members of the community to continue their healing journey.

The Prime Minister also announced a new $20 million over four years to complete the Pathways to Safe Indigenous Communities initiative, which builds on our work to implement the Federal Path and end violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQI+ people. This initiative supports Cree Nation by James Smith and other communities in the development and implementation of community safety and well-being projects.

Access to quality, culturally appropriate and trauma-informed mental health care is essential to the well-being of communities and to supporting recovery from the pain, trauma and loss inflicted by tragedies such as the horrific violence of last September. The government of Canada will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples across the country to advance Indigenous-led approaches to mental wellness. Our priority is for everyone in Canada to access the mental health care they need, when they need it.

“Today I heard firsthand the pain, grief, anger and grief that people here in the community of Cree Nation by James Smith feel. Canadians mourn with you.
Better access to mental health and addictions care will help create a safer and healthier community, and the people of Cree Nation by James Smith: The government will be your partner on every step of your healing journey.”
– The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeauprime minister of Canada

“From tragedy to healing is a long journey, but the people and leaders of Cree Nation by James Smith remained strong. Healing takes time and ongoing support. That’s why we will continue to support and fund Indigenous-led and Indigenous-designed approaches to health. There is so much more to be done to transform systems of care so that Indigenous peoples can access safe, equitable, and culturally centered health and wellbeing services. The federal government remains committed to being a strong partner in this work. »
– The deputy. Patty HajdaMinister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario

“We are grateful for his visit – his kind words were deeply touching as members of our community continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones. We acknowledge that Prime Minister Trudeau and his government responded to our immediate needs for emergency health support immediately following the incident, which assisted us during a time of great turmoil. His visit gives us confidence that we can continue to work together to achieve our long-term goals which include our need for treatment centers and self-administered police services.
—Chief Wally Burns, Cree Nation by James Smith

Fast facts

  • On September 4, 202211 people were murdered and 18 injured in Cree Nation by James Smith and the neighboring community of Weldon, Sask.. The suspect in these homicides was apprehended by police, went into medical distress and later died in hospital. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation into these tragic events is continuing.

  • Following this tragedy, the government of Canada provided a range of immediate support to the local community, including:

  • In October, the government of Canadathe government of Saskatchewanand the prince Albert Grand Council announced a partnership to improve public safety and policing in its 12 member First Nations and 28 communities. This team will advance work on Indigenous-led public safety initiatives tailored to the needs of each community.

  • In Budget 2022, the government committed to $227$0.6 million over two years to maintain Indigenous-led services to improve mental wellness. This is based on funding from $597$0.6 million provided in Budget 2021 for distinctions-based Indigenous mental health and wellness strategies.

  • Funding for the mental wellness program has increased from approximately $325 million annually in 2015-2016 for $580 million in 2021-22. An additional amount of $107 million that year, trauma-informed supports were expanded to all forms of trauma, bringing total program funding to $687 million in 2021-22.

  • The government of Canada is committed to supporting the mental health of everyone in Canada. If you or someone close to you is struggling, the Hope for Wellness Helpline is available to all Indigenous peoples across the country. Experienced and culturally competent counselors are available by phone at 1-855-242-3310 and online chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Phone and online chat services are available in English and French. Telephone support is also available upon request in Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut.

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