Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Liberal MLA David Swann release statement on International Day of World Indigenous Peoples

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann commemorate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

This year’s theme is Indigenous People’s migration and movement.

Many Indigenous Peoples are forced to leave their homes, families and traditional ways due to extreme inequalities in funding between reserves and urban centres. They often struggle to find a better life as a result of inadequate supports and systemic prejudices.

Khan stated, “There has been significant progress over the last decade including the Alberta government’s sixties scoop apology. But, much more needs to be done to address the gross inequalities faced by Alberta’s Indigenous Peoples.

Swann stated, “On this Day we should reflect on being better partners building a brighter future for Indigenous Peoples. This must include respect among equals and for the Nation-to-Nation relationship.This must be both a celebration and a call for justice.”

Alberta was built with the enduring contributions of Indigenous Peoples. We must all pledge to build together a more equal and more inclusive Province for all Albertans.

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann will speak on “Sixties Scoop” Apology

Edmonton, AB – May 28, 2018: Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann has issued the following release on his upcoming statement in the Legislature on the Sixties Scoop apology:

Swann stated, “The “Sixties Scoop” is one of the darkest chapters in modern Canadian history. Indigenous Children in alarming numbers were taken from their families, their homes and their communities. They were ripped away from the life they knew and their culture.

“I applaud this Government for taking this important symbolic step. It is important to show that we are listening. However, it is equally important to show that we are willing to take action.

“While improvements have been made, many indigenous youth in state care are still cut off from their families and culture. Our system lacks the necessary cultural support to help preserve Indigenous identity.

“67% of the youth in state care in Alberta are of indigenous descent, despite Indigenous Albertans only comprising 10% of the child population. This is no small problem. That is why I’m calling on the NDP Government to follow through on their promise to address these issues.”

Dr. Swann will speak further on the “Sixties Scoop” apology in the Legislature today.

Urgent action needed to stop suicide epidemic in Maskwacis

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann says urgent action from all levels of government is urgently needed to stop the suicide epidemic in Maskwacis.

“I am deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life,” says Swann. “My heart goes out to this community, which has endured immense suffering and witnessed so many preventable and senseless deaths.”

A recent CBC News report said the community has experienced 14 suicide deaths in less than 2 months. This echoes a previous story from May, 2015 that warned about a dramatic rise in Maskwacis suicide rate, which had reached one or two every week.

A local health worker and community members alike are asking for the area’s leadership to declare a state of emergency, a measure Swann believes may be needed to raise awareness and mobilize additional resources.

“This is clearly an ongoing crisis that hasn’t garnered the attention and action it deserves, especially given the scale of death occurring in this particular community,” said Swann. “All levels of government, must use whatever means at their disposal and work with the community and the affected families to put an immediate stop to this.

“We need the provincial and federal governments to provide increased access to affordable housing, education, health and child care, mental health and addictions services, as well as increased professional development and business opportunities.”

Yesterday, the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate also released a five year summary showing that, of the number of suicide deaths during involvement with child intervention services, Indigenous young people accounted for 71.4% of deaths and 37.5% of serious injuries from suicide attempts. Among the suicide risk factors it identified were depression and exposure to suicide within their families and communities, as well as the impacts of intergenerational trauma and colonization.

“Maskwacis is particularly vulnerable given the particularly high presence of all of the risk factors associated with suicide,” says Swann. “The Advocate’s report should be a clarion call to invest in culturally appropriate care and activities to strengthen individual identity and connection to the community.”