SIX NATIONS – A local community effort is still underway to support Attiwapiskat and other First Nations northern communities.
The group, Helping Hands Initiative for Attawapiskat and Northern Communities, was initiated by Laurie A. Hill back in April; after hearing that Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency on April 9 in response to 28 suicide attempts in March and 100 since last September, seven of which involved children under 14. There are several reasons why the state of emergency was issued, the lack of access to common, everyday necessities like hygienic products and food being one of them.
The group has been meeting every so often to discuss the different ways they can offer support, and met again recently at the Sweet Spot in Ohsweken.
“We just wanted to let you know that Helping Hands is going to be stepping up efforts to start the ball rolling forward more with the shoe-box campaign [one aspect of support from the group],” said Hill. “We will also be putting events together to start raising funds to get the donations we have collected and are still collecting up to Attawapiskat and other communities.”
Hill said that a lot of community members reached out back in April to offer help and support Hill said that the group will be reaching out to the community again to see if more people are still available. The group still needs a place to store all the donations.
“It [the space] would have to be on the rez, secure, and free of charge since we have no funds yet,” said Hill.
When it comes to other local and regional issues, like the pipeline situation in Standing Rock, N.D., Hill and the rest of the group send their prayers, support and appreciation, but are planning on continuing their efforts towards Attiwapiskat and the northern communities.
“We are aware with the events taking place in Standing Rock that many people are focused on — our brothers and sisters on the front lines, who are out there, defending mother earth for all of us,” Hill said. “With continued prayers sent to the water protectors, Helping Hands is moving forward to our goal of building bridges of communication, support and help with communities in the North.”
Hill said that the group is in need of the communities help and support to make their group goals a reality.