After a tragic wave of suicides in the early part of 2009, there was near spontaneous response by government departments, agencies, organizations and ordinary citizens who wanted to do something to help. At an informal community gathering, where a group decided to produce a video celebrating Eskasoni’s resilience and hope, a young person remarked that what was happening in our community felt like a storm. Someone else said it was more like a tsunami. The analogy is also important in understanding how people respond to a disaster in a community. Offers of help, of every kind, pour in immediately following the event. But once our story has left the headlines, short-term commitments of assistance leave with them. The problem is that recovery from crisis takes years, even generations. This requires long-term investments for rebuilding and healing, and strategies to protect the community as much as possible from crisis in the future. While outside resources are vital, equally important is that local community members are equipped with the skills and tools they can use to recognize a situation before it becomes a crisis and to know how to respond in those times that it does.
The Mi’kmaw Mental Health Committee worked tirelessly over the past few years toward the development of the “Mi’kmaw Crisis Response Team Guidelines”. These guidelines are solely based on the experiences of the Eskasoni Crisis Response Team. The Eskasoni Team has successfully used the enclosed guidelines in a number of occasions within their own community and other Mi’kmaw communities in the Maritimes.