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A Conservative MP Gave A Heartbreaking Speech About Indigenous Suicide

"After all these years, we have so much to learn."

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Canadian MPs gave emotional speeches Tuesday night as part of an emergency debate on the Indigenous suicide crisis.

Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS

NDP MP Charlie Angus requested the debate after Attawapiskat First Nation declared a state of emergency.

One of the most heartbreaking speeches came from new Tory MP Todd Doherty, though.

Thank you. That was much harder than I thought. #thankyou https://t.co/cJo69AL0L7

Doherty — the Opposition Critic for Indigenous Affairs — said the issue is close to his heart because he used to work with at-risk First Nations youth.

He worked with them "at a time when fear paralyzed the discussion, for fear it would only get worse."

CPAC

He said he knows how important it is to have counselling and mental health services in these communities.

"I have sat with teenagers who felt that their only way out was death."

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"I have sat with families grieving because they had missed the signs; we could not reach their son or daughter to save him or her."

Doherty then read a quote from Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Bruce Shisheesh. He told Global News that he's homeless and sleeps on a couch.

Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Doherty also pointed to the fact that on Monday night, police reportedly stopped another 13 teenagers who were part of a suicide pact.

"Kids should not have to grow up in poverty, and they should not have to feel that the only choice they have is life or death," Doherty said.

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"They should not have to grow up in an environment where addiction, depression, and suicide are the norm."

"We have a state of emergency declared. We have a First Nations chief trying to lead from a couch."

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"I am not sure what further consultations need to be done to demonstrate that this community and others facing the same dilemma — they're in dire need of resources," Doherty said, referencing the federal budget's call to consult people on how $8.4 billion will be spent on Indigenous communities.

"I think I speak for all of my colleagues when I say we took this job as a member of Parliament with the hope of leaving behind a better country."

Doherty said Indigenous communities deserve the same opportunities that non-Indigenous communities have.

"Sometimes partisan politics need to be put aside and members need to come together to find solutions to prevent another unnecessary loss of life."

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-National Film Board

"To give a voice to those who feel they are not being heard, to give every Canadian equal opportunity to succeed, and give every Canadian the resources to lead healthy lives, and if faced with the unimaginable, that we never miss those signs."

Emma Loop is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. PGP fingerprint: 4A39 DD99 953C 6CAF D68C 85CD C380 AB23 859B 0611.

Contact Emma Loop at emma.loop@buzzfeed.com.

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