Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth – “Finding the Way Back: An aggregate investigation of 45 boys who died by suicide or homicide in Manitoba” between 2009 and 2018 is a special report structured to reflect the wisdom of the medicine wheel, with four chapters representing the four directions and stages of life: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and elderhood. The aggregate investigation revealed common and modifiable risk factors for the young men who died, 78% of whom were identified as First Nations youth and 49% of whom lived in northern Manitoba. Risk factors included:
- living in poverty;
- experiencing racism and discrimination; witnessing caregiver substance use and intimate partner violence between adults;
- involvement with the justice system;
- poor attendance in school; and
- problematic substance use.
- Gang involvement was also a commonality among many of the young men who died by homicide.
Advocate makes 4 recommendations to address systemic inequities experienced by First Nations children, youth, and communities:
- Coordinate between government and child and family services authorities to include evidence-based and culturally safe supports for parents with substance use disorders in their homes with the goal of reducing apprehensions.
- Continue work on an Indigenous Inclusion Strategy that includes culturally appropriate school engagement initiatives tailored to Indigenous boys to help close the achievement gap and increase high-school completion rates.
- Demonstrate development or continuation of sustainable initiatives in anti-racist education for all students, administrators, teachers, and support staff.
- Collaborate with the Government of Canada and consult with Manitoba communities to update, fund, and implement a provincial youth gang prevention strategy.