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'This is normal for us:' Indigenous leaders want help to end suicide crisis

REGINA — Indigenous leaders from across Saskatchewan are in Regina to press governments to help their communities deal with what they are calling a suicide pandemic.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations hosted chiefs at the site of a teepee erected on the lawn across from the legislature to draw attention to the suicide problem.

The provincial government is seeking a court order to have organizer Tristen Durocher and his supporters removed after the young man walked more than 600 kilometres from a community in northern Saskatchewan to call for legislative changes to address the crisis.

Officials say there is no overnight camping or fires allowed in the park and that Durocher's group doesn't have a permit.

Durocher says he's on a tea fast which he plans to end mid-September.

Many of the chiefs voiced support for Durocher's cause and spoke of personal losses to suicide.

Chief Louie Mercredi of the Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation says his remote northern reserve is home to 900 and has faced many suicides.

"This is normal for us, " he said Tuesday, surrounded by young community members who held pictures of those who died.

"We need help."

The federation represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 11, 2020

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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