TIM SMITH/THE BRANDON SUN
Sioux Valley Dakota Nation Chief Jennifer Bone (centre) walks with other community members to raise suicide prevention awareness in this file photo.
A year after a mental health crisis led Sioux Valley Dakota Nation to declare a state of emergency, the Nation is looking for federal support in establishing long-term mental health solutions in the community.
The Nation called a state of emergency on Oct. 10, 2020, due to what Chief Jennifer Bone described as a mental health crisis in the community after multiple deaths by suicides were reported.
Establishing a healing centre and hiring four additional mental health workers has been a key part of addressing the crisis, she said, but little headway has been made since the state of emergency was declared.
“We do the best we can with the funding that’s provided to offer those programs and services to the community,” Bone said. “We’re always having discussions around mental health and supporting our families and healing, addictions, strengthening our family units and how we can do better.”
A healing centre or treatment centre is essential for the well-being of the community, she said, because it is important to establish a dedicated healing space for Dakota people struggling with addictions or mental health.
Bone said the Nation wants to be able to provide space for programs and services to enable community members to receive long-term care plans.
When the state of emergency was declared in October 2020, The Brandon Sun reported a band council resolution cited concerns including “regarding the proliferating effects of suicide within the community,” as well as “compounding and escalating addictions and mental health problems” and “ongoing grief and trauma that has ultimately impacted the community collectively.”
In 2020 the Nation saw approximately six suicides in the community between March and October, including three within one week, Bone told the Sun in October 2020.
The band council resolution and a corresponding message posted to Sioux Valley’s website cites the COVID-19 pandemic as a contributing factor to the crisis.
“Pandemic safeguards are hindering the community’s ability to conduct traditional and cultural grief and trauma practices for the …….