Mental health, energy dominate Northern Premiers’ Forum

From left: Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski, Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna and NWT Premier Bob McLeod in 2015.
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Canada’s Northern premiers wrapped up two days of meetings in Nunavut on Tuesday.

Peter Taptuna hosted his two territorial counterparts, NWT Premier Bob McLeod and Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski, in his home riding of Kugluktuk.

The two-day forum was a precursor to next month’s Council of the Federation meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland, when all of Canada’s premiers and aboriginal leaders will come together for a series of meetings.

Energy, climate change and the development of critical infrastructure topped the agenda in Kugluktuk.

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But the three leaders also discussed ways to reduce the number of aboriginal children who end up in the welfare system, and the need to end violence against indigenous women.

“As we prepare to meet aboriginal leaders in July, we touched on a number of issues that are important to aboriginal people in all three territories.

“We discussed the need for coordination of action to end violence against aboriginal women and girls that is aimed at the root causes of violence such as addiction, poverty and mental wellness.”

The premiers also reflected on the recent report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, something that will likely be discussed in further detail next month.

Mental health

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As a follow-up to last year’s forum, the premiers also provided an update on work done to advance e-mental health and other methods of delivering mental health services in remote communities.

McLeod told reporters new funding under the federal government’s Territorial Health Investment Fund will allow the NWT to push forward with on-the-land programs for mental health and addictions.

MLAs in the Northwest Territories have also introduced new legislation to update its Mental Health Act.

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