We know that one key is education. We know that the capacity to acquire the skills and competencies of the jobs already in the north.... There are a lot of jobs in the north; we cannot say there are no jobs. But we have to support the capacity and the factors favouring people getting access to those jobs. Often we don't give them the right conditions.
Housing is a good condition to give people so they have a safe environment to learn in. That's the first step: a safe, secure environment to learn in so they stay in school, so they have the capacity that if they go to school in the south, they know they can come back and have a place to live and enjoy both the traditional ways of life and....
There are people who succeed in doing that today. There are people who do, but it's not everybody. Everybody does not have the ability to do that.
The challenge is that we have to start somewhere. It's all areas. In health care services, we know that the majority of employment here is held by people from down south who come to work up north. Our objective is that one day those jobs will be filled by people in the north. To do that, we have to facilitate access to education and be creative in how we give that education. Right now, for someone living at home in the north, growing up in a small community and having go to Montreal to finish their schooling, it is a big, big change. It's an incredible change. You have to imagine it for yourselves. Let's say you grow up here and are sent to a small community in Africa. You are told, “This is where you have to live for the next three to four years to acquire your skills.” I don't think many of us would stay.
Let's do more to facilitate education and programs in the north that are adapted to the north. In our certification process in the south, we have become very rigid, with the claim of the need to ensure safety and benefit and everything else. I understand that. However, we need to understand that we also could be more flexible in the communities to facilitate education programs up north. There is the idea of having a college up north, having facilities where people can learn in their communities in the north. We have to be flexible there.
I can give you an example of that, I think. We have to work with the vision of people being up there and wanting to stay in their communities. They want to grow there. They want to live there. They want to earn a living there. They also want to practice what has built their identity, which is the land, going onto the land and accessing country food. That's part of the cultural identity that is a safety net for suicide prevention and mental health. It's all part of that.