Evidence of meeting #23 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was inuit.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

George Hickes  Minister of Health, Minister responsible for Suicide Prevention, Government of Nunavut
Karen Kabloona  Associate Deputy Minister, Quality of Life, Department of Health, Government of Nunavut
James Arreak  Chief Executive Officer, Executive Services, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
Johannes Lampe  President, Nunatsiavut Government
Shuvinai Mike  Director of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, Department of Culture and Heritage, Government of Nunavut
Jeannie Arreak-Kullualik  Director, Department of Social and Cultural Development, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
Maatalii Okalik  President, National Inuit Youth Council
Alicia Aragutak  President, Qarjuit Youth Council
Louisa Yeates  Vice President, Qarjuit Youth Council
Nina Ford  Youth Representative, Youth Division, Nunatsiavut Government
Kimberly Masson  Executive Director, Embrace Life Council
Sheila Levy  Executive Director, Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line
David Lawson  President, Embrace Life Council
Paul Okalik  As an Individual
Toby Otak  As an Individual
Peter Williamson  As an Individual
Caroline Anawak  As an Individual
Adam Akpik  As an Individual
Jack I. Anawak  As an Individual
Louisa Willoughby  As an Individual
David Joanasie  As an Individual
Brian Tagalik  As an Individual
Emiliano Qirngnuq  As an Individual

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

We were talking yesterday about funding. You mentioned federal government involvement, and I want to get into the specifics. What will allow the federal government to be a proper partner in an overall Inuit suicide prevention strategy? What would the elements be? What approach is required? What kinds of dollars are required for the federal government to be a full partner in this strategy?

3:30 p.m.

President, Embrace Life Council

David Lawson

I think we just need the federal government to listen to us a little more. I know that they brought someone up for the summit, but aside from that, they could certainly be more involved.

Let's say you give the implementation committee $1 million. You announced $1 million last week to all four Inuit regions, but when you say that we have until until March 31 to spend it—and before that, we have to do all the proposals and get approved first—it makes it really tough for us to simply go along with the federal government's rules and criteria.

3:35 p.m.

Executive Director, Embrace Life Council

Kimberly Masson

I realize absolutely that there are accountability needs, but I think what our communities have said is really clear: it's that they have all the answers. They know what their community needs.

If the funding could be more broadly based.... We have to increase access and flexibility in how it's applied, because what they need and what's going to work definitely differs significantly from community to community.

Accountability can be pretty stringent. I understand the way that it can be created, but when one community wants a cultural centre and another community wants land-based healing programs, they have to be able to access that pot of money in a very simplistic way—please.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

In terms of both of your organizations, can you identify your overall budget? What would an ideal budget look like for you to maximize the role of your organization within an overall strategy?

3:35 p.m.

Executive Director, Embrace Life Council

Kimberly Masson

We currently have three employees, and they're all Iqaluit-based. It would be ideal to have fully staffed offices in each of the regions. That cost is going to differ, based upon how much travel they do and how much they access the small communities that they're supporting.

We currently have a budget of about $500,000. Well, it's changing, because we're changing projects. We're well over capacity right now with that and burning the candle at both ends. Probably a few million would be appropriate for our organization, and then we could access people very carefully and/or have broad-based strategies, such as increased broadband. If we had better digital access to people, it would help.

3:35 p.m.

Executive Director, Nunavut Kamatsiaqtut Help Line

Sheila Levy

We have a very small budget, in that we get $50,000 from the Government of Nunavut to help us run, and then we get a little more to give to the Ottawa distress centre. Our budget is about $120,000 to $130,000 now, but that is with no paid employees. That's with me and everyone else doing the training for free, the scheduling for free, the running of the office for free.

That can't continue. People want more access to our services and better access. They would like to have more Inuit counsellors available.

We would like to even be a service of volunteers and perhaps paid counsellors at times when volunteers aren't available. A lot of the help lines throughout the south do that, including the Ottawa distress centre, but we don't have that ability. If we did, we would be able to operate 24/7 out of Nunavut, with counsellors who speak Inuktitut available at all times.

Do we need to have funding? We're waiting for what we get. We could offer that probably with $1 million, but not with what we have now. We're offering the service in the best way we can, but we need to expand and we need to make sure it's more relevant for everybody, and we need money to do that.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Andy Fillmore

Okay, thank you.

That brings this panel to a close. I want to thank each of you very much for being so prepared and for sharing such thoughtful remarks. As you know, everything that you've told us today will become a matter of permanent record and will be rolled into the study that we expect will be concluded early in the new year, in February or March. It will then be passed along to government to impact policy and funding positions.

Thank you very much for your time and effort on this, and for all of the work that you do.

We're going to suspend for about five minutes and then we'll come back. We have about 40 minutes available if anyone in the audience would like to make statements from the floor on the microphones. We're happy to do that, and those statements would also become part of the permanent record.

I'll also remind everyone to be aware of the web addresses that are on the whiteboard outside the door. They are another avenue for leaving remarks for us. Any remarks that we gather through that website will have equal weight with anything we've heard in the room today, as we go forward in our study. If our friends in the media would like to help us get that website out there, that would be appreciated too.

We'll suspend for five minutes. Thank you very much.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Andy Fillmore

We'll come back to order and open up the floor for comment.

Members of the committee would love to hear any comment that you have, which will be read into the record just as all testimony has been.

There are two microphones; probably the one at the front would be the best one to use.

We have some flexibility in terms of time. Provisionally, we will continue until 4:40. It's now about 3:55. If folks could keep their remarks to four or five minutes at the most, it would be helpful.

I remind everybody again of our website, where people can make additional remarks.

I see someone approaching the mike. Please state your name before you make your remarks.

3:50 p.m.

Paul Okalik As an Individual

[Witness speaks in his native language].

My name is Paul Okalik. I'm the MLA for Iqaluit-Sinaa, which is right here. You're in my riding. I want to welcome you, first of all, and thank you for coming to my riding.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Andy Fillmore

Thank you.

3:50 p.m.

As an Individual

Paul Okalik

You're talking about a subject that's very difficult. I'm glad you're dealing with it and trying to tackle it. I don't envy your position, but at the same time, I hear comments of colonialism that are out of context for me.

At the same time, we still live with it. It doesn't matter which party's in power, by the looks of it: you somehow have to appoint somebody other than Inuk to represent us.

We left that in the last century. We're quite capable, as the young lady showed you today, of representing ourselves. Please allow us to be equal and give us proper standing in our own country. That's what I want to start with.

I appreciate your efforts. I was active in the last campaign because I wanted to see a government that would act and would represent and at least tackle the issues we're facing today. One of them is suicide.

Thank you for coming. I hope you will make a difference, because we need help. Our government is trying to do its best to try and tackle it, but we need a partner in Ottawa, as you can see, to assist us in making a difference.

I believe a lot of good people came before you today to offer you help. Please report to your masters, whoever they may be, to help us tackle this difficult matter. We'll be there to do our part to assist you, and hopefully we'll turn the tide.

Qujannamiik. Merci.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Andy Fillmore

Thank you very much for that.

Thank you for your kind welcome to your riding. It's a beautiful riding.

Please approach the microphone if you'd like to speak.

3:55 p.m.

Toby Otak As an Individual

First of all, I would like to say thank you for coming.

This is a difficult subject to talk about, especially after losing a family member that I loved in the early spring.

I would like to see more mental health workers within the smaller communities. I would like to see more than one there to help, because I've noticed that during the school year there are always emergencies, no matter what. I became reluctant to see one after I lost my brother, because after I was in high school I sought help, but I always ended up having to talk about the same thing over and over, which made we go back to square one.

He left his children at a young age. They seem to be lost. I would like also to see about reminding them that it is okay to talk. Problems don't start overnight. They can start at an early age. As they are growing up, if they don't know how to talk, the result can be suicide. We are getting tired of seeing suicide occurring because they don't know how to open up.

It will be nice to have able mental health workers around, and more than one of them might be there, especially in a small community.

Thank you.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Andy Fillmore

Thank you very much for that, and also for spending your day with us today.

I think the guest in the pink shirt wanted to say a word, and then I think Johannes was going to say a word.

Could I ask you to start by stating your name? We have a co-worker, Roxanne, outside the door, who will double-check that we have the spelling right. Thank you.

September 23rd, 2016 / 4 p.m.

Peter Williamson As an Individual

I'm Peter Williamson. I'm here as an individual.

I was here this afternoon and heard the youth speak. I thought what they said was very insightful. One of the things I really appreciated about what they said was they weren't talking from approved talking points. They were really talking from their hearts and about what they see and experience in their own communities. It is very much a problem across all Inuit regions.

As you probably know, there are four Inuit regions. One is Nunavut. There are three others, and the problem of suicide is across all regions and all communities.

As I was growing up, the first person I knew who committed suicide was when I was 12, and that person was 12 too. As I was growing up as a teenager, a lot of my friends committed suicide. Since then some of my relatives have committed suicide.

I remember walking down the street in my own home community of Rankin Inlet. I and a friend of mine were walking, and we saw blood on a wall inside a house through the window. We thought and said to each other, “I guess they're having another fight.” The next day we found out that somebody blew their brains out.

I don't think in the south very many people can say they have known 25 or 30 people who have committed suicide, but I can say that, and I'm not unusual. It's very common for a person living up here. Some of my very close friends have committed suicide, and it's a big problem.

I want to talk about a couple of issues I think will make a difference. One is I really started noticing a difference in how many young people committed suicide after their parents and their aunts and uncles and their grandparents could no longer afford to go hunting, because living the traditional lifestyle and being brought up in a community and in a family where the traditional lifestyle is the way you are brought up really does make a difference. We started losing that in the 1970s, and the 1980s too, but it started in the 1970s. Once that happened, more people did commit suicide.

There was what were called the seal wars at the time, when Greenpeace and other environmental activist organizations who wanted to raise money started to attack the sealing industry, which Inuit were a part of. They really relied on seal hunting to make a living. I remember as a young person that there were a lot of people in my community who went out seal hunting. They sold the sealskins and could then afford to buy guns and bullets and Ski-Doos and lumber to build qamutiks, which are called sleds, and even in the summer they could afford to buy boats and outboard motors and gas, and because of that the traditional lifestyle was still alive. It made a big difference.

Today Inuit communities suffer from poverty. We suffer from food insecurity.

Those are just examples, but they have a profound effect on people in Inuit communities, and we would not be suffering from those two examples if Inuit could still afford to go out hunting. That's definitely the case.

With the negotiation of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and the establishment of the Nunavut government, Inuit wanted their own government. They wanted their own government so they could develop and implement their own policies and programs. For a lot of people, that was the whole reason for negotiating the land claims agreement.

There are other provisions that are very important. For many people the purpose was so that they could get their own government and determine their own future, and, as I said, develop and implement their own policies and programs. One of those policies and programs would be how to get people out hunting again, but the Nunavut government has been in place since 1999 and we're still seeing the same conditions as in 1999. Now it's 2016. Where are these policies and programs we were hoping to create that would make a difference in people's lives? Where are the Inuit who would become the managers and senior government bureaucrats?

We have politicians, but we also have our own public service, which I'm sure you know is very important. For Inuit, it's important too, because in our land claims agreement we negotiated a chapter on Inuit employment within government that would allow us to put Inuit in place in senior positions in the government, who could then develop these policies, such as getting more people out hunting, but it hasn't happened.

We need those kinds of policies to be developed and to start being implemented. One way of doing that is to make sure that the provisions in our land claims agreement concerning Inuit employment within government are being implemented—they haven't been so far—and not just with the territorial government, but within the federal government too, because these provisions apply to all governments in Nunavut. The federal government, the territorial government, and the municipal governments all have responsibilities to hire and train Inuit for senior positions within their own governments. I'm not going to go into details on what those provisions are, but they haven't been respected. We need to start making sure that these provisions are implemented.

The last point I'll make, because I know you want to keep this short, is that I worked for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada for 15 years in Ottawa. One piece of research I came across while working there was in the library of that department. It was a report called “An overview of demographic and socio-economic conditions of the Inuit in Canada”, published in 1985. This report said that the Inuit population had more than quadrupled between 1931 and 1981. It said that in 1931 there were just over 6,000 Inuit in Canada, and only 65 were outside of Inuit regions. In 1961, 30 years later, there were just over 11,000 Inuit, so the population had almost doubled in 30 years. In 1981, the population of Inuit was just over 25,000 Inuit in Canada. That had more than doubled in the preceding 20 years. In 2006, there were just over 50,000 Inuit in Canada, with 11,000 living outside of Inuit regions.

So there was a fourfold increase in the Inuit population in Canada over 55 years, and in 2006 the Inuit population had almost doubled in the preceding 25 years, which is what one of our youth said this morning. That's why I wanted to bring this up.

This report also said:

The purpose of this report is to describe the Inuit ethnic group in terms of its demographic evolution and specific socio-economic conditions. This publication provides information which should be useful for policy and program development, strategic and operational planning, and performance measurement.

This was in 1985.

When I was working there, I brought this to the attention of the senior people in that department, and nothing happened. This report was underlining the importance of keeping track of how fast the Inuit population was growing so that the department could develop appropriate policies and programs to meet the increased Inuit population in Canada.

We need to keep track of the trends of the growth of the Inuit population in Canada, and we should assume that the Inuit population will double every 25 years. That's extremely important, because we are talking about not only suicide, but poverty. As you know, or hopefully as people know, poverty does lead to an increase in suicide. That is completely evident in the Inuit communities.

Housing, schools, roads, sewer and water and municipal infrastructure, electricity, and air and marine infrastructure all contribute to the quality of life in Inuit communities, and we are way behind the eight ball.

We really do need to keep track of how the population is growing, which will also affect our ability to deal with the suicide and poverty implications in our communities.

Thank you.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Andy Fillmore

Thanks very much for those comments.

Again, I'll just remind folks of the website portal for detailed submissions. That would be really useful to us as well.

Thank you for standing, and welcome.

4:10 p.m.

Caroline Anawak As an Individual

My name is Caroline Anawak, and I'm one of two former suicide intervention specialists working at the Department of Health for the Government of Nunavut.

I'd like to start by saying that if one kid in Kanata committed suicide, there would be a tremendous flurry of activity at every conceivable level. In fact, there would be mobilization in the schools, trauma counsellors coming in, and debriefers debriefing the debriefers.

Policy and training at the Ottawa-Carleton school board level would be looked at. There would be massive meetings with parents and there would be information going home to parents. There would be a large number of people at the provincial level seeing what they could free up for resources and whether they could hold the school board and the school to the standard that is required at times like that. Also, hopefully, the MPs would be working their particular connections to deal with this.

The life of one child in Kanata is worth a great deal. The response to that child shows how much they're worth, how much the community has invested in them, and how much it is concerned about the trauma and the ripple effects of suicide. As I stand here today in Iqaluit, since Nunavut began 102 people have committed suicide—that's 102—and I have never seen any type of mobilization similar to what I described. There are only two organizations—Embrace Life and the Kamatsiaqtut Nunavut crisis line—that exist and are truly concerned about this.

You can imagine how cheap life looks without a mobilization at every conceivable level. It doesn't make it onto the City of Iqaluit's agenda, but potholes and dumps do. It doesn't make it onto the agenda for the school board. They're busy with pencils and how much they're going to pay the guy to take people out on the land. We do not see the infrastructure, the service level, the training, and the dollars. One hundred and two people can die in 16 years, right where we're all sitting today, and there's nothing. There's no coordinated action.

I finally left the Government of Nunavut because in fact the five-year suicide prevention strategy was never funded. It was great for PR, but it was never funded. An inquest actually brought out that fact when one parent was brave enough to agree with the coroner and to call for an inquest. What came out was absolutely dismaying. In the end, I wasn't even provided with the suicide completion statistics, because I might tell someone. I left with my eyes full of tears, but I'm not going to give up, as you can see.

What causes a community like this of only 8,000 people not to be jumping into action the way I described earlier? Part of it is that these suicides come so fast and so often that there's never a chance to grieve one before another one occurs. Because people are interconnected, people from here and also the communities—it could be this region or another region—are grieving. Likewise, there are no supports there.

We have social workers and we think they have suicidology training. We have other caregivers, the mental health workers, and they never studied it in in their education.

This is a unique situation, yet ironically it only began in the mid-seventies. As I worked with elders in all four Inuit land claims areas doing research, we spent five days and nights in each of the land claim areas, from the area of the Inuvialuit all the way over to Labrador to the Nunatsiavut area, and they all said the same thing: suicide never occurred among youth. I thought, this is a gem. Why is it that it didn't ever occur? Some conditions were really bad. There was the forced move into settlements for someone's administrative convenience that shut down and gave no role to the males. Even during the hard times, though, it wasn't happening. Why in the seventies?

When it did start happening, the elders admitted they had no tools, because it had never happened before. The government clearly had a clinchhold on the nursing stations, so there wasn't a way to let them in through health boards or for them to sit on health committees to talk about this.

As elders were marginalized more and more, it came to the point where a whole wave of people came north as professionals. This wasn't going on in their families. They, too, did not have the tools, and despite having a lot of training, they were not trained in suicidology. We had a lot of people in senior positions from somewhere else who didn't have this happening, and it wasn't one of their reference points. They had decision-making powers within our government.

The sad thing was that as more and more happened, people began to be so numbed that they really couldn't react anymore. Examples include people saying things like “I don't go to the house anymore. I always did when something occurred” or “I don't want to pick up the phone when it's late at night, because they may just tell me another person died.” People are numbed, so they shut down and they do nothing, and people are on emotional islands with their grief.

Thank you.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Andy Fillmore

Thank you very much for your comments.

I wonder if I could just see a show of hands from the audience. Who would like to speak?

I see about five. We really need to keep these comments to about three minutes; otherwise, we're not going to hear from everybody.

Thank you very much.

4:15 p.m.

Johannes Lampe President, Nunatsiavut Government

Nakurmiik.

My name is Johannes Lampe and I am the president of Nunatsiavut.

I will try to be quick. My chauffeur is waiting, so I'll be quick.

I looked back to our ancestry, to how our grandfathers suffered so much that Inuit are said to be strong and resilient and able to adapt to anything. That is what we did, but times change. We are not what our ancestors used to be.

I believe that our ancestors suffered to the core because of things like relocation when they were removed from their homeland to be taken to communities that they did not know or understand, as well as to residential schools. Young children were taken to schools and left their parents, so their mothers, fathers, and grandparents suffered to the core. When an Inuk suffers, the genes suffer. Our children and our grandchildren today are now suffering to the core, so it continues.

In this day and age major developments are happening. For example, in Labrador the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project is happening. The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has made major mistakes in terms of our relocation and residential schooling. I know the Muskrat Falls project also is a big, major mistake that will also cause great damage to the Inuit of Labrador.

Hunters have been made to suffer as their husky dogs have been killed, massacred. Because those were their only ways and means of living out on the land, they again suffered to the core when they lost their husky dogs. They also suffered to the core.

So there are many different factors causing suffering to the core, and also we were not speaking, so we have to connect, communicate, and care about Inuit in all the regions.

I thank you for this time. I have hope and confidence that something will move from this, but the trust has to come from the progress of these hearings.

Nakurmiik.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Andy Fillmore

Thank you, Johannes.

4:20 p.m.

Adam Akpik As an Individual

My name is Adam Akpik, and I'd like to offer my perspective to the honourable vice-chair and member of Parliament David Yurdiga on his question on decolonization, as well as to the rest of the committee.

I found, through my Inuit studies at Nunavut Sivuniksavut, that you can separate decolonization into four different areas. Those would be physical, intellectual, economic, and political. My perspective on decolonization would be finding that middle ground between the societies that indigenous people and Inuit once lived historically and today's market-driven and colonized economy, and for the federal government to support Inuit in the way that they believe that our society will work.

Another thing to touch upon is what Toby said about the lack of mental health workers in the communities. According to Stats Canada statistics from 2006—and I wish I had more updated ones—at that time we had the lowest ratio of physicians, the lowest ratio of registered nurses, and the lowest ratio of psychologists. Although we were above the national average in social workers, many times these are not registered social workers, but they get hired on as social workers anyway. This does not account for or represent the revolving door for these employees who come to the territory. Often there is a revolving door because of a lack of cultural competency and training.

There was a story just last week of a psychiatrist who was due to fly to Clyde River to provide her services, but she had no cultural competency training and she had no contacts, no colleagues to reach in Clyde River. This also doesn't take into account the ripple effect on things such as education; often in our schools, because we don't have this educational psychiatrist, we're not meeting the needs of a lot of our students.

That's what I'd like to say today.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Andy Fillmore

Thanks very much, Adam.

I would ask the next witness to state his name.

4:30 p.m.

Jack I. Anawak As an Individual

[Witness speaks in Inuktitut]

I apologize, but when you give us a limit of three minutes, it reminds me of the people who came up for one day, and they were prepared to put a page in the editorial section. If they stayed a week, they were prepared to write a book, as if they knew everything.

Let me give you a bit of a historical perspective from our side. When I was going to school, they told us that in 1492 Christopher Columbus discovered America 500 years ago. We had already been here 4,000 years before that. After that, the whalers came along and almost decimated our whales, the bowhead whales. They almost decimated our muskox.

After that, the Hudson's Bay Company and the missionaries came, and at the same time the government, through those organizations, introduced colonialism. After that, in northern Quebec, they moved some families up to Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay, saying that there was better hunting up there. There wasn't. It was for sovereignty reasons.

After that, there were some people who were out camping, and when they came into a community like Iqaluit, the RCMP were ordered to shoot their dogs so they couldn't go back out and they could live in the community. Then we went to Chesterfield Inlet for residential school, where they wanted to assimilate us. They told us we shouldn't be speaking Inuktitut.

Throughout those years, you can understand why we have had some problems up here, and the highest rate of suicide. I myself have lost three brothers to suicide, yet there are no adequate mental health programs. Not enough money is being put into mental health programs up here. That is the main problem, the main issue. Again, the government has all these nice-sounding programs—suicide prevention, poverty reduction, Nutrition North—but never has the necessary personnel to totally carry them out. All these have not worked as well as they should have, because the people involved have not utilized the people who live up here as much as they should have.

I maintain that the main important thing up here is to provide adequate funding for mental health programs, because there has been so much trauma since Christopher Columbus discovered America that it has piled up.

When I said about 4,000 years, our first nations people had already been here for about 36,000 years—and Christopher Columbus came 520 years ago. When I was a member of Parliament, I always spoke Inuktitut. One of the times I was speaking Inuktitut, a member of the Bloc stood up and said, “Point of order, Mr. Chairman”, and she proceeded to tell the chair that she didn't know what foreign language I was speaking. Those are the kinds of examples. I could hardly wait to stand up and tell her that I always speak Inuktitut. She is speaking French, and I am not speaking English. I can record the history of English and French by a few hundred years, whereas for Inuktitut it is a few thousand years. She got the point.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Andy Fillmore

Thank you very much indeed for that.

From the committee, my deep apologies about the limited time. There's a plane leaving, and we're merely trying to hear as many voices as we can before the plane takes off.

Thank you for that.

Welcome.

4:30 p.m.

Louisa Willoughby As an Individual

I'm very shy.

I suffer from PTSD because of my past. I used to be able to function and I used to be able to work on a daily basis. I cannot work anymore. I do not have any place I can go to for counselling. I do have one place through my husband's work, but I cannot take that route anymore because there are too many people suffering like me who cannot get help because of their suffering from PTSD. I cannot go for counselling when there's a whole lot more who cannot go for counselling because we're not fully staffed up here. The staff we have through mental health are useless for PTSD. I'm sorry to say that, but they are. They are completely useless.

If you want to prevent suicide from happening, then you have to start with mental health. You have to start educating Inuit people about what PTSD is, because they do not know what PTSD is and they do not know that they're suffering from PTSD. They just think there's something terribly wrong with them, and they can't figure out why.

They not only need to have fully trained staff up here.... I have an option: I can go down south for treatment. I cannot, at this time in my life, go out for treatment, because we have someone in our family who's doing worse than I am, and she has nowhere to turn for help either. She's tried counselling a few times, but she's doing things that she should not be doing because she slowly wants...she wants to commit suicide and she doesn't have the guts to commit suicide, so she's making sure that she's running herself down, big time.

I have an underage drunk at home. I have an underage person at home who is addicted to drugs. We have nowhere to turn for help, because we're not saying the right things that the mental health people want to hear and because we're not doing the right moves that they want us to use. It doesn't work that way.

I have been counselled on and off. I've had to be, just to be able to be here. I can say what I think I need. A lot of people can't.

Mental health needs to be drastically improved. They need to have workers up here for people who do not want to go down south for treatment and who want to be able to be treated up here.

My mornings are getting better. My mornings are getting a whole lot better, but I wake up every morning crying, and I don't know why I'm scared. Honestly, I do not know why I'm scared. I wake up in fear every morning. That has lessened. That have lessened quite a bit. I'm able to get out of the house a lot more now than I used to be able to.

If you honestly want to help us, look at mental health. Don't do these hearings anymore and not do anything about it. We're human beings with souls.

Thank you.