Monday, April 5, 2010

Why On the Path of the Elders Matters

A fatality inquiry into a Tsuu T’ina teenager’s suicide demonstrates the urgent necessity for more Aboriginal-focused resources like

Fatality report into Tsuu T'ina suicide shows struggles of native teens (Calgary Herald)

In this article, provincial judge Catherine Skene draws attention to the pervasive and systematic lack of support Aboriginal youths face:

 “CF struggled as she grew up in an atmosphere of neglect, emotional injury and chronic parental alcohol abuse ... CF’s suicide was not the result of a single event ... she did not have the social support systems in place that a child in a traditional, stable, nuclear family would have.

At the launch event for, Dr. John Medicine Horse Kelly Cle-alls spoke of how many Aboriginal youths feel disconnected from their culture and history: “we need Aboriginal youths to look in the mirror and see somebody, a person, a real person, not a stereotype... right now, they look in the mirror and see nothing.”

In other words, this teenager’s tragic death is not an isolated act: it is symptomatic of the isolation felt by many Aboriginal youths disengaged from their culture.  

It is our hope that will help Aboriginal youths reconnect with their culture and past; furthermore, we hope that will pave the way for more resources dedicated to helping youths understand they are an integral part of a rich tradition and culture.

No youth should feel so invisible and isolated that suicide becomes a preferable option.

Collette Jackson, Content and Marketing Specialist at BlackCherry Digital Media, is writing on behalf of On the Path of the Elders, a free online educational resource that explores Cree and Ojibway history and culture, and the signing of Treaty No. 9.

Check out On the Path of the Elders at

For more information, email us at

Created in partnership with BlackCherry Digital Media, Archives Deschâtelets, the Doug Ellis Collection at Carleton University, Our Incredible World (Pinegrove Productions), the Mushkegowuk Council, Neh Naak Ko, the Archives of St. Paul University, Carleton University, and Wendy Campbell, Educational Consultant (Learning Methods Group).

This project was made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy. Created with additional financial assistance from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the Inukshuk Fund.

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