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Too many people in our province share his pain, and know just how difficult it is to access treatment when it’s needed. According to the Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service, 224 people — 170 males and 54 females — died by suicide in Saskatchewan in 2018. The rate of 19.3 deaths by suicide per 100,000 people is nearly double the 2018 national per capita average of 10.3. Rates are even higher among Indigenous people.
Bringing attention to a cause when the province and the world are distracted by the COVID-19 pandemic is no small feat. But Durocher’s peaceful, committed mission captivated the hearts and minds of many citizens of this province.
Just how captivating Durocher’s mission proved to be is evident in the interaction depicted in the photo included with this editorial. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Graeme Mitchell appeared at a departure ceremony for Durocher. Mitchell was the judge who ruled in Durocher’s favour when the Provincial Capital Commission, which operates Wascana Centre, sought a court order forcing Durocher to vacate the site. The ceremony was deemed protected by Charter guarantees of freedom of expression and freedom of religion. It is a decision the government and PCC will hopefully accept and, as ordered by Mitchell, go about creating new bylaws for Wascana rather than appealing to a higher court.
Some say it was not appropriate for a member of the judiciary to appear and show his support in this way. It certainly is startlingly unusual for Mitchell to have been moved to do this. The power of the interaction, however, is indisputable and speaks to the resonance of Durocher’s message.