A prayer vigil was held at Brock University this afternoon in response to the suicide attempts in the northern First Nations community of Attawapiskat. Last week the community of 2 000 declared a state of emergency after 11 residents tried to take their own lives in two weeks.
Organizers held a tobacco ceremony for the First Nations community, located 700 kilometres north of Sudbury. Tobacco is considered a sacred medicine among many indigenous groups.
“We passed around the tobacco in the pouch. Everyone took a little bit they put their good intentions in that tobacco and then we put it back into the pouch and it got put on the fire.” Celeste Smith, organizer.
There were 28 suicide attempts in March, many of them are the same age or younger than most first year university students. The student population at Brock is more than 18 000, that is 9 times the size of Attawapiskat. Over 30 people took part in the vigil, including staff, students and non-natives.
Brock students and staff are collecting donations for youth in Attawapiskat. They’re collecting books, art supplies, sporting goods and financial donations to help cover the cost of shipping. They are also sending letters of love and support to a community in a state of emergency.