POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 75 Successive governments have tried - sometimes intentionally, sometimes in ignorance - to absorb Aboriginal people into Canadian society, thus eliminating them as distinct peoples. Policies pursued over the decades have undermined - and almost erased - Aboriginal cultures and identities. Direct consequences of colonial settlement are a decrease in the autonomy of Indigenous peoples and disruption to traditional knowledge, language and ways of life. Preserving or regaining autonomy, language and culture can be protective against suicide within some communities.The First Nations Regional Health Survey (FNRHS), for example, showed that there were lower rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts among those who had intermediate or fluent knowledge of their Indigenous language. In families and communities that have been most impacted, on the other hand, cultural loss resulted in historical trauma that may continue across generations, affecting even younger generations that did not experience these disruptions within their lifetime. Research with the children and grandchildren of residential school survivors, for example, reveals that these generations have a higher incidence of psychological distress and suicidal behaviours compared with their peers whose parents or grandparents did not attend residential school.Traumatic losses of loved ones and exposure to suicide among community members and peers adds to community and family grief, and contributes further risk for suicide among youth. Many of these historical disruptions and abuses have resulted in ongoing social distress, which is compounded by wider socio-economic and health inequities. Social factors, such as income and education, are known to influence the overall health and wellness of people, including their risks for suicide. Indigenous peoples across Canada experience lower educational achievement and income, higher unemployment, food scarcity, poor access to housing and more barriers to accessing health care compared with the general population.These inequities can contribute to higher rates of many medical conditions, such as diabetes and infectious diseases, which, in turn, influence mental wellness. FNRHS found higher rates of depression, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among those who also have a chronic medical illness. It also found that individuals who reported higher levels of stressors, such as low socio-economic status, and being subject to instances of aggression and racism, reported being moderately or highly distressed more often than those who did not. Suicide Intervention and Prevention Addressing the risks for suicide that exist at these multiple levels and that impact both individuals and the community as a whole, requires multi-level approaches that reduce risk and also build in protection and resilience. Suicide prevention and mental wellness require investments beyond mental health care. Given the historical losses that resulted in loss of autonomy for many Indigenous communities, it is of key importance that efforts to address suicide are led by Indigenous peoples and target the community as well as the individual. Prevention and intervention should draw on the values, knowledge, strength and resilience of Indigenous peoples. There is a growing wave of Indigenous youth who prefer to talk of life promotion, focused on building strength and meaning among youth instead of what they perceive as a deficits-based approach to suicide prevention.There are also, however, many emerging programs in suicide prevention by Indigenous organizations that continue to draw on global best-practices in suicide prevention, while integrating those with their own practices and settings, making them more resonant with Indigenous world views. Examples of this include programs led by elders or knowledge keepers, programs that incorporate ceremony and cultural teachings, are led in Indigenous languages, or that occur on the land. Regardless of the approach, most practitioners in this field acknowledge the need to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to add to Indigenous knowledge in this area and to ensure that the most effective solutions are found. One of the most promising areas in suicide prevention by Indigenous groups, both globally and within Canada, is the development of suicide prevention strategies. One of the first national Canadian approaches is the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy developed by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. There is evidence that suicide prevention strategies themselves reduce suicide through advocacy, focusing resources towards priority areas, integrating services and creating accountability. Indigenous-led strategies can ensure that the focus is specific to the needs and values of the Indigenous group. These strategies can also ensure that a holistic approach is taken, understanding the need to reduce risk and build resilience throughout an individual’s life, while also addressing the wider social context, building equity for all and restoring community autonomy and cohesion. Suicide among Indigenous Peoples in Canada (continued)