OHSWEKEN – The national suicide rate for indigenous youth still remains higher than the national average and the loss felt by losing a loved one to suicide is carried by many more.
The Brightening the Spirit-Breaking the Silence Suicide Awareness Committee held their third Annual Remembering Our Loved Ones Dinner for those affected by loss due to suicide on Monday night.
Dorothy Russell-Patterson, a member of the committee, explained that the dinner has always focused on bringing families together.
“It’s challenging at this time of year for many,” said Russell-Patterson. “Our focus as a committee is towards suicide, but we open the doors to anyone at this time of year for sure, because pain is pain. There are no words to say what that pain is for any of us. This is just our way of easing some of that, and letting them know that they are supported.”
Many families in attendance mingled with together and it was easy to see the sense of the community in the room, Russell-Patterson explained that it was planned this way.
“This dinner is more intimate,” said Russell-Patterson. “And definitely more informal and warm and fuzzy rather than too formal and too [uncomfortable].”
When asked about previous years, Russell-Patterson thoughtfully pointed out that the success was in seeing people come together, not the number of people.
“It’s not as big of a crowd as we’ve had in the past. But, those who are here definitely called up and wanted to register to be here,” she said. “People who don’t know each other don’t talk to each other, but this way we just sat them wherever we had an empty space. They get to chatting amongst themselves, so that’s a good thing to see.”
Throughout the night entertainment and speakers rotated, including a performance by a women’s singing group as well as many draws.
“We have a number of draws and a number of generous partnerships with Health Services and Social Services, so we just like to draw them throughout the night to get the relaxation and the fun atmosphere going,” she said.
The relaxed nature of the dinner was achieved as many in attendance also took part in lighting a tea candle in memory of a lost loved one, or wrote their name on a banner after completing the beautiful meal.