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"My people are suffering from mental distress": Governor Mary Simon visits the Yukon community, which was hit by a drug death

A three-day visit to Yukon for Governor Mary Simon began on Sunday at the Carcross / Tagish First Nations Har Shagonhidi Cultural Center . rice field.

Simon visiting the territory to strengthen relationships while focusing on reconciliation, mental health, and opioid crises — — Yukon Territory elders, youth, leaders and communities Talked about difficulties Recently faced with mental health and drug-related deaths.

"Connecting with the indigenous community is very important to me," said Simon, who wants to tackle both community challenges and positive remarks.

The Haa Shagóon Hídi Great Hall in Carcross
On Sunday, Simon was formerly the Carcross / Tagish Learning Center for Carcross. (Sissi De Flaviis / CBC)

Earlier this year, Carcross / Tagish First Nationsdeclared a state of emergency in the wake of drug-related deaths. Did. community. Shortly thereafter, territorydeclared a similar emergency

In 2021, Yukon wasdue to opioid toxicity at a rate of 53.5 per 100,000 total population. Death, according to federal statistics.

Simon said he has heard similar scenarios from communities across Canada, where cases of mental health have increased since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Suicide rates continue to be very high in different parts of the Arctic, which shows that my people are suffering from mental distress," she said. Problems due to colonization, family trauma and intergenerational trauma.

She said that one of the solutions to addressing community difficulties would include increasing indigenous ownership and increasing mental health resources and support. ..

For many, her visit outside the territorial capital was important.

Gordon Reid, a member of the Teslin Tlingit Council and a park ranger, said he attended a visit to the territory by former Governor .

"What's happening this time is reaching out to her beyond Whitehorse. It's an honor to be here," he said.

Reed said the opioid crisis would occur near his home, but having Simon talk about it gives him hope.

"We lost a lot. Too many. But talk about the number of friends the kids lost and someone in power and influence pays attention to it. In a sense, I hope to provide the support needed to talk to the right people to make a difference. "

This is her first official visit since taking on her role in July 2021. This is part of the big goal of visiting states and territories to interact with Canadians across the country to build better relationships. ..

"We really need to understand each other's story. I think it's part of the process we're undertaking from a reconciliation perspective," Simon said.

Central Simon and her left husband, Whit Fraser, are Sean, the heritage manager of Carcross / Tagish First Nations. Standing with McDagal. (Sissi De Flaviis / CBC)

Over the next two days, the Governor will meet with elected officials, including Prime Minister Sandy Silver, indigenous Yukon leaders, and Yukon University students. increase. ..

She will also participate in the Arctic Arts Summit, which brings together the indigenous peoples of the Circumpolar region.

Mental health is a top priority

As the 30th governor of the country, Simon said he would like to focus on mental health and welfare.

"I think we all know that if someone has a mental health problem, it can be stigmatized," she said at Carcross. Said in his remarks. "I think we need to change that. We need to accept each of these health problems physically and mentally."

To deal with it, Simon Said advocating for improved mental health services.

"As a country, I think we need to do better," she said.

Aliya Grant is a member of the Carcross / Tagish First Nation and has been awarded the Outstanding Youth Achievement Award at the Sunday event by Commissioner Angelique Bernard of the Yukon Territory.

Grant said she wants more support from the government for young people.

"In our Potlatch we always say that the child is the first to be served. So why doesn't that happen in our mental health and health system?" She said. Told.

Aliya Grant smiles for the camera
Aliya Grant is a leader of 18-year-old youth based in Carcross. On her Sunday, she was awarded the Outstanding Youth Achievement Award for her mentorship and advocacy efforts. (Sissi De Flaviis / CBC)