Wunnumin Lake Seeks Help to Deal with Mental Health Crisis in Community

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Wunnimun Lake First Nation is 500 km from Thunder Bay
Wunnimun Lake First Nation is 500 km from Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay – NEWS – Wunnumin Lake First Nation is asking for help. A tragic death, followed by a suicide by a person who witnessed that death, combined with the death of a community Elder has created a mental health crisis in the community.

On Thursday, Nishnawbe Aski Nation held a press conference with leadership from Wunnumin Lake to outline the situation. Grand Chief Derek Fox supports a plea for assistance issued today by Wunnumin Lake First Nation Chief Sam Mamakwa following a series of tragedies in the remote community.

“Our community is under risk management to maintain community stability, but we require immediate and longer-term support to help us with the psychological trauma and impacts on our entire community,” said Chief Sam Mamakwa during the press conference in Thunder Bay. “It is critical that the appropriate mental health and other supports are provided as quickly as possible to stabilize our community and help our members heal from these terrible events. We are doing the best we can, but the people of Wunnumin need to know that more help is on the way.”

Sol Mamakwa, MPP for Kiiwetinoong and NDP critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations, released the following statement in support of Wunnumin Lake First Nation’s request for provincial help after a series of traumatic deaths:

“I share in the deep grief of Wunnumin Lake First Nation as it mourns the tragic loss of three precious lives in little more than a day. Losing two young people, one in a tragic fall and one to suicide, and then learning an elder has passed away in long-term care, far from family and home, is shattering. I am extremely worried about the impact of these events on the community — especially those who lost a loved one or witnessed the traumatic circumstances of the deaths.

“Community-based, culturally appropriate mental health resources are needed immediately, and I echo Wunnumin Lake First Nation’s call on the Ford government to urgently provide immediate and long-term investments in a comprehensive and coordinated continuum of mental health care.

“The community is in crisis now. There is no time for jurisdictional ping-pong. Ontario must urgently answer Wunnumin Lake First Nation’s request for help”.

Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner released the following statement regarding the crisis situation in Wunnumin Lake First Nation:

“Doug Ford needs to respond to calls from the Wunnumin Lake First Nation and provide immediate support. This includes mental health support that is community-driven, culturally appropriate and timely. Wunnumin Lake First Nation is in crisis. In under 36 hours, a community of less than 700 has experienced three tragic deaths. The psychological trauma of these tragic events is severe and I share my deepest sympathies with the community.

But we need more than just words. The Ford government must step up and immediately respond to calls for support from the Wunnumin Lake First Nation.”