A $28,000 grant from Allchurches Trust Limited will boost the Council of the North’s Suicide Prevention Project, and support suicide prevention training for approximately 25 people.
“I was thrilled to hear the news!” said Project Coordinator Cynthia Patterson in an interview. “We are praying every morning as part of our Advent prayers that we move out of darkness into light and this has been a beautiful way of moving out of darkness into the light of Advent.”
Since 2009, the Suicide Prevention Project has worked with the ten northern dioceses of the Council of the North to develop individualized approaches to high suicide rates. In Canada, suicide rates are five to seven times higher for First Nations youth than the general population. Among Inuit youth, suicide rates are 11 times higher than the national average.
Self-determination is a priority throughout the project, said Ms. Patterson. Communities decide if they want to be involved, who will participate, and how. Some dioceses have chosen to advocate for a national suicide prevention strategy (Canada is one of the few countries without one). Other communities are partnering in prayer.
The new funds will support communities in the Diocese of Moosonee and the Northern Ontario Region Area Mission who have expressed interest in learning through River of Life—the first online course with certification in suicide prevention. River of Life was developed in coordination with Indigenous Peoples and is endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations.
Ms. Patterson said that several people from each community will take the course so that they can share the work and avoid individual burn out. Communities may also develop in-person learning circles to complement the online training. She expects this work to begin in 2011.
Initial funds for the Suicide Prevention Project were raised through the Amazing Grace Project. In 2008, Canadian Anglicans filmed themselves singing “Amazing Grace” and donated a toonie to the Council of the North. Amazing Together, the award-winning documentary with footage of all the renditions, was one result. In addition, more than $95,000 was raised for the Council of the North, which they dedicated to the Suicide Prevention Project.
For more information about the project, email Cynthia Patterson, project coordinator. To donate to this work, visit the Anglican Church of Canada’s online gift guide or contact Paul Clur, research consultant with the Department of Philanthropy, by email or phone: (416) 924-9199, ext. 293.
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