Health Canada providing $380,000 to First Nation struggling with suicides of 2 girls

(Jolynn Winter, left, and Chantel Fox. Photos courtesy of the families)

Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Health Canada has committed to immediately provide $95,000 for mental health services and “long term healing” to a northern Ontario First Nation still reeling from the suicides of two 12 year-old girls.

The department also committed to provide Wapekeka First Nation $380,000 annually for mental health services targeting youth beginning this fiscal year, according to Health Canada spokesperson Eric Morrissette. The $95,000 is expected to cover mental health services until March 31.

“The minister and department officials continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that support is provided to the community on a priority basis,” said Morrissette, in an emailed statement.

Health Canada informed the community of the funding in a Jan. 26 letter to Chief Brennan Sainnawap.

Word of the federal funding comes on the heels of a surprise donation this week of $380,000 to the community from an anonymous donor.

The $380,000 figure was initially requested by the community in a proposal submitted to Health Canada last summer after the uncovering of a suicide pact between several young girls. Wapekeka informed the department of the suicide pact and said funding was needed to hire four health workers to deal with the looming crisis.

The department turned down the request.

Then, earlier this month, two 12 year-old girls, Jolynn Winter and Chantel Fox, committed suicide days apart.

Sainnawap could not be reached for comment.

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