Women's Studies and Feminist Research Presentations


The Necropolitics of Indigenous Suicide

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 3-10-2017


In a discussion of the Attawapiskat suicide state of emergency of April 2016, I will look at the Pikangikum Death Review as well as the People’s Inquiry of the Mushkegowuk Council to discuss how Indigenous suicide is interpreted within an individualized framework of risks and social factors. Instead, I offer the perspective of Achille Mbembe’s necropolitics where discourse surrounding Aboriginal suicide needs to placed within a framework of the continued and intentional process of dying of Indigenous people within the settler-colonizer state. Taking up the work of Sherene Razak, I explain how necropolitics dialogues with the idea of modernity, where Indigenous lives disappear to allow space for the superiority of the settler-colonizer. Within Judith Butler’s work on grievability, it is clear that Indigenous lives are not as grievable as other Canadian lives, evident in the poor response to the tragic suicides permeating Northern Ontario Reserves,.

I draw on the government response to the suicide crisis in Attawapiskat to reflect on how this issue is not new and how the proposed solutions have not facilitated change thus far. I argue that in framing Indigenous suicide within necropower and the expectations of modernity, we can situate responsibility and facilitate dialogue, in a nation-to-nation paradigm, to better understand how this situation can be handled in order to foster life, not death.


This is a submission for the Western Research Forum on March 10, 2017

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