Images of gas-sniffing Innu children recently found their way onto the front page of The Telegram again.
Again the cry for help has come from Mushuau Innu Chief Simeon Tshakapesh. The situation obviously needs to be addressed in an effective manner. I recall several years ago, during one summer in particular, when several Innu teenagers in Davis Inlet committed suicide within three months. The fact that the problems related to gas-sniffing and other issues are again front-page news indicates there is a need to reassess the situation confronting the people of Natuashish.
Having said this, I would point out to readers that the Innu of Natuashish, are not the only people in Newfoundland and Labrador, in particular, or in Canada, who have social issues which need to be appropriately addressed by government at all levels (municipal, federal or provincial) or by the public.
In this province there are people living on social assistance, working at minimum-wage jobs and seniors living on a fixed income who struggle to obtain what most would consider to be the basic necessities of life.
Adequate and affordable shelter, an adequate supply of food for the table, not to mention sufficient money to pay for electricity, clothing and personal care items are often beyond the reach of people right here in St. John’s, who must rely on the various outreach organizations set up to aid those in need, or the goodwill of others to obtain basic necessities of life, which many take for granted.
In conclusion, the Innu are not the only people in society who have needs which require affirmative action from governments in particular and people in general. Deprivation is becoming more prevalent in our province where, all the while, the rich get richer.
The lack of sufficient social conscience on the part of society in general is a contributing factor within the context of dealing with social ills, as exemplified so graphically by the situation in Natuashish. As a society, we need to stop the judgmental finger-pointing, which too often occurs in response to the existence of social deprivation, and instead extend a helping hand to all who are faced with social issues which impact negatively on their lives.