FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Native Council wants to believe in the Province’s newly released Mental Health and Addictions Strategy
(Charlottetown, PE) November 17, 2016 – The Native Council of PEI genuinely desires to support the release of the Province’s recently released Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, but from a very circumspect position. Having lost their prior mental health and addictions programming due to funding cuts, the Native Council has been working toward the implementation of a replacement program for nearly two years, but is waiting on assurances from the Province.
“We at the Native Council want to support the strategy, but cannot help being simultaneously wary of what it actually means for us and the community we serve. We need results. This could be a good starting point, but that has yet to be proven.” President & Chief Lisa Cooper started.
The strategy document proves that the provincial government has recognized many of the most prevalent gaps within the mentioned service area. However, the Native Council is cautious when considering the implementation and interpretation of the strategy. There is palpable, innate concern in relation to programming and service delivery, or the defined lack thereof. Specifically, the Native Council is concerned over the loss of their past program and the gaping hole it has left in the services offered to the community.
The Native Council had preliminary discussions with the Premier in this regard, where offers were made in relation to assisting in the replacement of the vital program loss. Yet, the discussions have, disappointingly, not yet led to any measured progress.
“We are waiting and growing tired of it. Without the resources and supports of our previous programming, which was very successful, we have been forced into inaction on numerous occasions when related requests and referrals have come into our office. It’s very hard when so many people in our community were, and still are, in such great need of mental health and addictions supports.” Lisa Cooper stated “We need the Premier’s office to produce something tangible from the discussions and assurances made in recent past. We insist on seeing rapid, substantial progress without the rhetoric.”
The Native Council is continuing to wait on the Province to see what will come from the assistance and action promised, which is where the organization’s inherent prudence stems from.
“When it comes to our off-reserve Indigenous community and their needs, we cannot afford to be anything short of vigilant, tempering our optimism and hope. Justifiably, we hope that the Premier will honour his word, but we are growing very restless as time goes by.”
The Native Council of Prince Edward Island represents and advocates for Status, Non-Status, Inuit and Métis Peoples residing off-reserve on traditional Mi’kmaq territory in PEI. The Native Council continues to exercise its collective rights and independent recognition and distinction as a historical Aboriginal Representative Organization.