Here's what a Sask. First Nation's Chief said about the Indigenous issues discussed in the provincial debate
Cadmus Delorme, the Chief of Cowessess First Nation, said he wants to see the Saskatchewan Government play a part in combatting the issue of suicides on First Nations.
"When it came to the suicide discussion, it's a very sensitive conversation. Children, youth, they don't want to live in the current situation and we don't need grandstanding people,” Delorme said.
“It's not a Federal responsibility, it's everybody's responsibility. If it's on reserve if it's off-reserve. It's in Saskatchewan. Everybody needs to play a part.”
Delorme weighed in on his thoughts on the debate and said he's ready to see action on this issue after seeing too many people die by suicide on First Nations in Saskatchewan.
"Without legislation, you could easily dance around it," Delorme said. "I do believe that something strong has to come. If it's legislation, let it be legislation. I just need answers. In the last six months, as a Chief, I attended three suicide funerals and I know it's real out there."
In July, Tristen Durocher walked from Air Ronge to Regina and camped and fasted outside the Saskatchewan Legislative building for 44 days. His actions came with a message: to bring attention to the suicide crisis on First Nations in Saskatchewan.
"We need the province as a whole to address this," Delorme said. "If it's legislation, Tristen awoke people that maybe had a little ignorance to this and shed tears to the ones that are so passionate about this."
At Wednesday's Provincial Leaders Debate, Scott Moe and Ryan Meili were asked about how they would connect suicide rates on First Nations communities, large numbers of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girl, and high Indigenous incarceration rates, with their respective job creation strategies.
Ryan Meili criticized Scott Moe's absence in the camp and said it sent the wrong message to all Saskatchewan people who have been touched by suicide.
"Instead of engaging in conversation, instead of meeting with him, Mr. Moe, you sent two of your ministers across the road to basically say 'get off my lawn,'" Meili said.
"What kind of message do you think that sends, not just Tristen, not to just Doyle, but to every family who has lost someone, to every young person who is struggling right now with whether or not they feel their life is something they can continue."
Moe said the Sask Party's Pillars of Life strategy is endorsed by the Canadian Mental Health Association and he is sticking by it.
“Everyone agrees with what Mr. Durocher is advocating for," Moe said. "He’s advocating for the investment and the recognition of something that we all need to do and we all need to work collaboratively on in reducing Indigenous suicides and suicides in northern Saskatchewan.
Greg Poelzer, a Political Science Professor at the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan, said he thought both Scott Moe and Ryan Meili answered the questions on Indigenous issues well.
He said the conversation in the debate exposed how all political parties need to do more for Indigenous Peoples in Saskatchewan.
“The future of our province is so fundamentally tied to the success, socially, economically culturally of indigenous peoples in the province that weren't any party that seeking power to have a very robust and deep and well thought out policy platform,” Poelzer said.
"If people fully appreciate the size of the population, and it's growing, we need to do better as a province in terms of embracing reconciliation as a province, especially economic reconciliation.”