Jordan’s Principle, the federal government’s program that assists First Nation, Metis and Inuit children with health supports has rejected an application from a Saskatchewan mother to find help for her daughter who has mental health and addictions issues.
The mother was hoping Jordan’s Principle would help pay for the help her teenager needs but her application was rejected.
According to the letter from the program, her application was reviewed by an unnamed assistant deputy minister and denied because, “supporting documentation provided with the request does not sufficiently link the requested support to the identified needs of the children,” nor does it “sufficiently link the request for relocation with the needs of the child.”
The letter the mother received does not offer help or advice on how to better explain her situation.
The Metis mother of two is struggling to find help.
Two years ago, she packed up and moved her two young daughters from Prince Albert to Saskatoon in the hope that the new scenery and resources in the big city would be the fresh start they needed.
While her then-16-year-old was a model student and well-behaved teen, her then-11-year old had got in with a “bad crowd” in the northern Saskatchewan city.
The girl suffers from an assortment of mental health issues that her mom hoped could be better managed in Saskatoon.
But since being in the city she realized her daughter – now a 13-year old chronic runaway and drug user – had spiraled out of control.
On Jan. 12 things got worse.
“I went for my morning coffee to Tim Horton’s and came home to find my daughter on the floor. Exhausted and dehydrated and pale,” said the mom.
“I’d never seen her like that before and I just knew. I said ‘oh Lord please don’t tell me’ and she said ‘yeah, I was raped.’”
She took the girl to the hospital to be examined. Police were called and a nightmare story unfolded. Her daughter had gone to a man’s house, a friend of a friend’s mother, on the belief she was to babysit his toddler. The man put his child to bed and allegedly raped the girl at gunpoint.
Text messages suggest the girl was sent to the man’s house by the friend’s mother, in exchange for drugs.
But that wasn’t enough to keep the girl from running away to the friend’s house soon after as the pull of methamphetamine was stronger than any sense of self-preservation.
While police were investigating, she says she was raped again – this time the man brought two friends with him.
“He said to her ‘see, you called police and they didn’t protect you the first time. Do you think they’ll help you now?’” said the mom. “We’re terrified. He lived very close to us, has a gun – who knows what else could happen.”
The man has since been charged with unlawful confinement, sexual assault, sexual interference and possession of meth in connection with the first alleged incident. He’s currently out on bail.
By law, APTN News can’t identify a person involved in a sexual assault case.
Terrified and at wits end, the mother got herself and daughters into an intensive family treatment program in Regina.
“My 18 year old doesn’t understand any of this. She’s a good kid, Just graduated. Has no interest in drugs or trouble. She doesn’t understand trauma and addiction,” said the mother, whose eldest understandably feels dragged around because of her daughter’s issues.
The temporary move to Regina for therapy didn’t work.
Not wanting to return to the alleged scene of the crime, the mother opted instead to hide-out in in a small central Saskatchewan town – one she hoped was far enough away from the pull of drugs and old ways.
But her 13-year-old has become a prolific hitchhiker, thinking nothing of hopping in a vehicle with anyone who will stop. The mother said as long as there’s a highway nearby, there’s a risk she’ll make another break.
“I’ve explained to her the risks of hitchhiking as a young Indigenous woman,” the mom said. “She knows them. She’s been on the Highway of Tears. I’ve put on shows about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. She knows the risk, she’s just incapable of making good decisions for herself.”
Her latest hope was drug rehabilitation, ironically in Prince Albert, the place she fled two years ago in search of a better life for her youngest.
The girl wasn’t in treatment long before she took off with another girl in the program. Last week, she was returned to her mom in their small hideaway town where she’s currently detoxing.
“The withdrawals are something I’ve never experienced in my life,” said the devastated mother. “It’s so very heavy on my shoulders being a single mom with no support or family.”
She’s living on $1,000 a month on disability. Her rent is $800 a month and COVID-19 has shut down the little town’s foodbank.
She’d hoped Jordan’s Principle would be the answer – a federal government program whose mandate is to “make sure all First Nations children living in Canada can access the products, services and supports they need, when they need them. Funding can help with a wide range of health, social and educational needs” says Canada’s website, including mental health and addictions support.
“I found a trauma-informed counsellor in St. Catherine’s Ont., willing to take her. My mother and my sister are there – I haven’t seen them in 10 years but hoped they could be support for us. Victim’s Services in Saskatoon wrote a letter in support of this,” said the mother, who is Metis, while her daughter a member of a small Saskatchewan First Nation which APTN won’t name as it could potentially identify the girl.
The band hasn’t offered any help and last week she got word that Jordan’s Principle won’t ether.
She plans to appeal the Jordan’s Principle denial despite the letter saying that “support not available to all children.”
In the meantime, lays low with her detoxing youngest daughter and her eldest, whose life is on hold for now in rural Saskatchewan. The mother is afraid she’s hit a dead-end on ever getting her youngest the help she needs.