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There is an online program and curriculum resource for teachers that might be dealing with the difficulties of suicide among First Nations students. 

Providing an expansive, accessible and downloadable curriculum that will “promote resilience and instill hope amongst First Nations youth,” the First Nations Youth Suicide Prevention program offers online sources and lesson plans for teachers as well as contemporary and culturally-relevant learning materials for students.

The First Nations Youth Suicide Prevention Curriculum is free of charge on a non-commercial basis to support efforts and initiatives to discourage suicide among First Nations youth.

Screen capture First Nations Youth Suicide Prevention Curriculum

Screen capture First Nations Youth Suicide Prevention Curriculum

Aspects of the curriculum include 24 one-hour online classroom sessions and other learning materials such as stories, interactive videos and activities, pictures, informational handouts, mass-media references, and internet resources.

According to the project co-directors Harvey McCue, Brent Angell and principal writer and researcher Amy Alberton, the program has “all required includes detailed guidelines for teachers as well as all required materials for in-class activities such as group discussions, quizzes, games, and other projects that provide opportunities for each youth participant to journal their journey of resilience and well-being.”

In relevance to culture, the site’s description says “Some overarching cultural values presented throughout the material include conceptualization of community, self-reliance and actualization, and connection with the land and to nature."

Screen capture First Nations Youth Suicide Prevention Curriculum

Screen capture First Nations Youth Suicide Prevention Curriculum

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Harvey McCue, Georgina Island First Nations, told CBC's Up North the reasons for creating the curriculum.

"I've been in First Nations education basically my whole professional and non-professional life, since 1969. During that time, like many other people, I came to recognize that suicide is a serious issue, particularly in First Nations communities. But all First Nation schools lack the instructional material to help teachers confront and address these very challenging issues." 

McCue also said principals and school officials in two First Nations communities agreed to test the curriculum in Saskatchewan and the elementary school at Long Lake #58 in northern Ontario.

McCue told CBC, "The feedback was terrific, there was very little tweaking as needed … We're very pleased. It helped us appreciate that we were on the right track."

The website says the curriculum isn't just a guideline for teachers. "Although the materials are directed at classroom teachers, other professional service providers are welcome to consider the application of this curriculum on behalf of First Nations youth at risk."

For more information visit The First Nations Youth Suicide Prevention Curriculum website here:

You can also download the curriculum directly here:

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Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling and Instagram - @VinceSchilling

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