When Christopher Merasty founded Men of the North, a support group for men in northern Saskatchewan, he was focused on creating a space for men in the region to empower themselves.
Merasty said he’s taking his passion for community work to the next level by running for the position of fourth vice chief with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).
“Developing a more holistic support system for men — introducing them to a sense of belonging, and a positive, healthy approach to wanting change and helping them in their healing journeys. I would like to bring that forward,” Merasty said.
“I’m looking at that and how to apply resources when it comes to helping to develop change within our communities by communicating and connecting with social programming organizations throughout Saskatchewan.”
After founding Men of the North, Merasty helped organize a suicide prevention walk from La Ronge to Regina that culminated in a 44-day fast by Métis musician Tristen Durocher at Wascana Park in Regina.
Saskatchewan implemented a suicide prevention bill as a result of Cumberland MLA Doyle Vermette, Durocher and Merasty’s advocacy.
Since then Merasty has been focused on a variety of community-based initiatives aimed at improving conditions for northerners and sits on the Northern Sports, Culture and Recreation District (NSRDC) board.
Merasty said his grassroots, holistic approach to community development would help combat issues such as suicide, addiction, gangs, and domestic violence in Saskatchewan First Nations.
“I’m opening up the conversation for more meaningful dialogue. I take a holistic approach when it comes to many problems in our communities,” Merasty said.
“Having somebody, such as myself in a leadership position would definitely be that stronger voice that many of our community members and leadership within our communities need.”
His campaign promises to revitalize First Nations communities, advocate for mental health and addictions services and implement a regional approach to problem solving.
Merasty said he’s focused on “promoting, practicing and initiating” First Nations ways of life, language, culture and youth empowerment.
Merasty wants to develop an action plan for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Men and Boys that would complement action plans for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
“Over the past couple years, I have shown through action that health and healing are essential for our people’s healing journey through both Men of the North and Walking with our Angels,” Merasty said.
“As the founder of Men of the North, a men’s healing group, we have helped our people know that they are not alone in their struggles and celebrate their successes.
“Respecting the struggles that Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls organizations have had and the progress they have made — we can work together for awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Men and Boys.”
Merasty said one key to improving conditions for First Nations would be a fair share of the wealth that is being extracted from treaty lands in the form of timber and minerals.
“We should collaborate with the many industries and resource development companies and corporations — so that both the companies and as well as the communities’ benefit from the resources which they either mine or cut in those treaty lands,” Merasty said.
Merasty is from the Flying Dust First Nation and lives in La Ronge. He works as an underground heavy equipment operator at Cameco’s Cigar Lake Mine.
“Putting in a hard day’s work is something that is not new to me,” Merasty said.
“I believe that balance is very important when it comes to the healing process for our people. My passion for a stronger, healthier future for our communities will guide me in listening to your concerns and being your voice.”
Every chief and councillor in Saskatchewan can vote in the FSIN elections on October 28th.