Members and families of the Aboriginal Veterans Autochtones (AVA), I wish to express my sincere thanks to everyone for the work that has been done over 2017 year.
AVA continues to maintain a positive and working relationship with the Government of Canada including both Veterans Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence. As was stated last year we have members working extremely hard to ensure that the momentum that has started at VAC does not slow down and they continue to concentrate on the issues. This past year we have witnessed Veterans Affairs work on establishing a Suicide Prevention Strategy and as recently as last week VAC released its findings on suicides in the CAF and Veterans dating back some 30 plus years. On behalf of AVA as well as our partners and the communities across Canada I have been critical of the attempt by VAC and DND to work on the strategy in isolation of other effective government agencies including Health Canada and also other Provincial and Municipal agencies. As we all know the rates of suicides in Canada are greatest, by numbers, in our own communities especially with First Nations and the Inuit so there is a need to also work with Elders and community professionals in order to counter this disturbing trend. I have made a pitch for Traditional Healing to be considered and there has been a positive response but also a slight reluctance by a small number of those engaged in the strategies. We must continue to engage and in the end, we will be successful for Veterans, their families and all communities.
Although the path we are on regarding wellness for our soldiers and Veterans AVA must continue to be the leader in engagements with all committees and I encourage everyone to make the effort to assist in any way you can through our traditional teachings and face to face contact with those in need be they Veterans or families. We can make a difference.
Please take the time during this Holiday Season to spend quality time with your family and friends and to enjoy those things we hold dear to us. Merry Christmas to everyone and I look forward to a prosperous year in 2017. Once again thank you for your hard work and dedication towards AVA and Veterans.
Miigwetch, Marsee, Merci, Qujannamiik, All our Relations,
Robert Thibeau, CD