Prime Minister visits James Smith Cree Nation and announces mental health support for those affected by September’s tragic attacks

JAMES SMITH CREE NATIONSK, November 28, 2022 /CNW/ – The events described below are far-reaching and profoundly impactful. If you need someone to talk to, the Hope for Wellness Helpline offers support to all Indigenous peoples. Consultants are available by phone or online chat. This service is available in English and French, and Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut upon request. Call the toll-free helpline at 1-855-242-3310 or contact the online chat at

In September, the horrific attacks that killed 11 people and injured 18 others in James Smith Cree Nation and the close community of Weldon, Saskatchewan, shocked Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We came together to mourn those whose lives were taken and to support their loved ones. The government of Canada continues to support community members dealing with the loss and trauma of this tragic and senseless violence.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeauvisited today James Smith Cree Nation to meet with community leaders, families of victims and survivors and to announce $62.5 million over six years commencing this year, and 4.5 million dollars continuously in support of the healing, mental health and well-being of community members affected by the tragic events of September, and in support of Indigenous-led approaches to community safety. Everyone should have access to the kind of support they need, and today we’re taking action to improve access to culturally-informed mental health and addictions care for people from James Smith Cree Nation.

From this new funding, $42.5 million will support mental health and healing, including through the construction of a new community wellness center and the repurposing of the existing Sakwatamo Lodge. This will also allow James Smith Cree Nation to develop and design programs that best serve the needs of their members, including increasing access to mental health, trauma, and substance use services. This will ensure that both immediate and long-term support is available James Smith Cree Nation community members to continue their healing journey.

The Prime Minister also announced 20 million dollars over four years to complement the Pathways to Safe Indigenous Communities initiative, which builds on our work to implement the Federal Way and end violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQI+ people. This initiative is supportive James Smith Cree Nation and other communities in developing and delivering community-based safety and wellness projects.

Access to quality mental health care that is culturally appropriate and trauma-informed is critical to the well-being of communities and to helping them recover from the pain, trauma and loss caused by tragedies like the horrific violence of last September. The government of Canada will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous people across the country to advance Indigenous-led approaches to mental health. Our priority is for everyone in Canada to have access to the mental health care they need, when they need it.

“Today I heard firsthand the pain, grief, anger and anguish that people here in the community are feeling James Smith Cree Nation they feel. Canadians mourn with you.
Greater access to mental health and addictions care will help create a safer and healthier community and for people from James Smith Cree Nation: the government will be your partner every step of the way on your path to healing.”
— Rt. Respected Justin TrudeauPrime Minister of Canada

“From tragedy to healing is a long road, but the people and leadership of James Smith Cree Nation have remained strong. Healing takes time and constant support. That is why we will continue to support and fund Indigenous-led and Indigenous-led health approaches. Much remains to be done to transform systems of care to ensure Indigenous people have access to health and wellness support that is safe, culturally centered and equitable. The federal government remains committed to being a strong partner in this work.”
“The Honorable.” Patty HaidooMinister for Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario

“We are grateful for his visit – his kind words were deeply moving as members of our community continue to grieve the loss of their loved ones. We recognize that Prime Minister Trudeau and his government responded to our immediate needs for emergency health support immediately after an incident that helped us during a time of great shock. His visit gives us confidence that we can continue to work together to achieve our long-term goals, which include our need for treatment centers and a self-governing police.”
— Chief Wally Burns, James Smith Cree Nation

Fast facts

  • On September 4, 202211 people were killed and 18 injured James Smith Cree Nation and the close community of Weldon, Saskatchewan. The suspect in those murders was taken into police custody, received medical attention and later died in hospital. The investigation into these tragic events by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is ongoing.

  • As a result of this tragedy, the government of Canada provided a package of immediate support to the local community, including:

  • In October, the government of Canadathe government of Saskatchewanand the prince Great tip Albert announced a partnership to improve public safety and policing in its 12 member First Nations and 28 communities. This team will advance work on Indigenous-led public safety initiatives tailored to the needs of each community.

  • In Budget 2022, the government set additional $227.6 million over two years to support community-led services to improve mental health. This is based on the funding of $597.6 million budgeted for 2021 for awards-based local mental health and wellness strategies.

  • Funding for the Mental Health Program increased from approx 325 million dollars annually in 2015-16 580 million dollars in 2021-22 Additional 107 million dollars that year expanded trauma-informed support to all forms of trauma, with total program funding leading to 687 million dollars in 2021-22

  • The government of Canada is committed to maintaining the mental health of all in Canada. If you or a loved one is struggling, the Hope for Health Helpline is available to all Indigenous peoples across the country. Experienced and culturally competent counselors are available by phone at 1-855-242-3310 and online chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Both telephone and online chat services are available in English and French. Telephone support is also available upon request in Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut.

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SOURCE Prime Minister’s Office


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