Two 12-year-old girls die by suicide on isolated Ont. First Nation
In this file photo, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler speaks in Ottawa on January 4, 2013. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Sean Kilpatrick)
Published Wednesday, January 11, 2017 3:38PM EST
Two 12-year-old girls from a remote First Nation in northern Ontario took their lives last weekend, prompting an indigenous chief to call for the federal government to issue an emergency response.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler says the Wapekeka First Nation, a remote community only reachable by air and a winter road, is devastated by the girls’ deaths.
“We are working non-stop to coordinate an emergency response and are doing everything possible to ensure that the necessary mental health and counselling supports are made available immediately, especially for high-risk youth who need urgent medical attention and specialized care,” Fiddler said in a statement released Wednesday.
A team of crisis workers has arrived in the community and more are expected to arrive in the coming days.
Fiddler, whose organization represents 49 First Nations in Ontario, has called on the provincial and federal governments to provide resources necessary to help youth in the isolated community and assist families and leaders after the deaths.
Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott has not publicly commented on the Wapekeka suicides.
Fiddler made a similar call for help last January after a number of suicides on First Nations communities. At least six young girls died by suicide in northern communities in late 2016.