Sol Mamakwa MPP, Kiiwetinoong

Government of Ontario

Mamakwa to Premier: First Nations communities need resources to prevent suicides today

Published on September 20, 2018

The NDP’s Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation critic, and MPP for Kiitwetinoong, Sol Mamakwa, asked the Ford government for assurances that resources are going to First Nations communities to help them prevent more suicides among children and youth.

Mamakwa requested that the Ontario legislature rise for a moment of silence on Thursday in memory of 13 year-old Karlena Kamenawatamin. The teenager died as a result of suicide on Wednesday. She was from Bearskin Lake in the riding of Kiiwetinoong.

“The Chief and the community are concerned that there will be more tragedies like Karlena’s,” said Mamakwa. "This concern is well founded. In 2015 a ten-year old took her life – this was also in Bearskin Lake.

“What is the government prepared to do to ensure that this pandemic of our young Indigenous people dying by suicide stops once and for all?

Mamakwa said that two years ago the suicide rate for children under the age of 15 in the First Nations communities he represents was 50 times higher than the national average.

“But what has changed since these children took their own lives? This is a health crisis. A mental health crisis. An intergenerational trauma crisis. And a housing crisis,” said Mamakwa.

“Karlena – the girl who died this week – lived in a rundown house without electricity.

“What is the premier prepared to do today – long-term – to ensure that the community of Bearskin Lake and other remote communities in Ontario have the resources they need to prevent more deaths of our young people?”