Yesterday our daughter-in-law Karen Leis sent an important letter to the premier of Saskatchewan. Karen is the province’s representative on the board of directors of the Canadian Paediatric Society. In her letter, she expresses her concern about a cluster of suicides in a Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation community near Loon Lake, about 360 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon. There have been three suicides among young people there in a three week period and eight suicide attempts. Karen notes that the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation is sadly not the only community to experience the pain of youth suicide.
On behalf of the Canadian Paediatric Society, Karen urges Premier Scott Moe to collaborate with Indigenous communities and their elders to address issues of poverty, racism and substance abuse. Karen cites these as the root causes of the current mental health and suicide crisis. She says a long term strategy to provide young people in Indigenous communities with effective, culturally appropriate and accessible mental health care services is imperative. Karen ends her letter by asking the premier to take action as soon as possible.
Of course, the Saskatchewan story on this issue is not unique to that province, as the moving testimony at a special meeting of the chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations earlier this week illustrated. National Chief Perry Bellegarde said action must be taken to stop Indigenous children and teens nationwide from feeling so hopeless they harm themselves.
Karen’s letter on behalf of Canada’s paediatricians provides important support to the voices of the Assembly of First Nations on this pressing issue. It should inspire us all to speak out and take action in our own areas of influence, because as Karen notes so insightfully, the health of our children and young people is a key indicator of the health of our entire society.
Art That Makes You Feel Sick
Dave and I had supper at an Academy Road restaurant last week. Adjacent to us a young family was having a meal. Throughout the supper the parents were talking with one another but the two children were on their i-pads the whole time. They put down their devices only to take bites of their food. That’s a phenomena I also observe often with children who are traveling on the bus with their parents. Both parent and child have their eyes fixated on their phones and don’t interact at all.
The Canadian Paediatric Society has published sensible guidelines for the use of electronic devices for kids with warnings to minimize, mitigate, be mindful and model behavior when it comes to screen time. Sometimes I feel like printing copies and handing them out in restaurants, on buses and in other public places.
Technology and Family Time at a Resort
Technology Transforms Travel
What’s the Best Way to Raise Children?
Filed under Childhood, Media
Children do not choose to be refugees or immigrants. They accompany their families seeking shelter, freedom from persecution, and opportunities to contribute to society. Before leaving their home country, many children and their families experience violence, hunger, separation and other atrocities that may have long-lasting effects on their health and development. Children must be offered protection, care and support to live healthy, meaningful lives.
That’s the first paragraph in a very timely and important statement issued on Monday by the Canadian Paediatric Society. I am proud to say my daughter-in-law serves on their Board of Directors. The stand these Canadian doctors have taken is admirable. In light of the American president’s recent executive order they are calling on the Canadian government to………
- Increase the number of refugees who will be accepted to Canada in 2017.
- Increase the number of privately-sponsored refugees from Iraq and Syria who can come to Canada in 2017.
- Continue to ensure that Canadians with dual citizenship from one of the seven countries affected by the U.S. ban are able to cross the U.S. border with a valid Canadian passport.
- Suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, so that refugees refused entry into the United States can come to Canada.
- Lead a global response to refugee resettlement.
You can read the entire statement here.
Thoughts on Refugees