Sol Mamakwa MPP, Kiiwetinoong

Government of Ontario

NDP calls on Ford to push for inquest for Devon Freeman, create special mental health strategy for Indigenous peoples

Published on December 13, 2019

QUEEN’S PARK — Sol Mamakwa, NDP MPP for Kiwetinoong and Indigenous Relations critic, asked the Ford government to push for an inquest into the death of Devon Freeman, a First Nations youth who died by suicide while in the child welfare system, and to create a special mental health and addictions strategy for Indigenous peoples.

“Devon, 17, was from the Chippewa’s of Georgina Island First Nation. He died by suicide while living in care in a group home, and his body went unfound for almost seven months — no one, no authorities, looked for him that entire time,” Mamakwa said.

“Devon’s grandmother and the First Nation are calling for an inquest into his death, to make sure this doesn’t happen to other Indigenous children. The continued neglect of colonial governments like ours mean young people like Devon live without hope.”

Mamakwa asked the premier why this week the Conservative government rejected an NDP proposal to create a special mental health and addictions strategy for Indigenous peoples.

After voting down the proposal during a committee meeting, Conservative MPP Robin Martin said creating a special mental health and addictions strategy for Indigenous people would be unfair to other groups.

“For the Ford government to deny Indigenous communities a specialized strategy and specialized supports for mental health and addictions is shameful, given that the suicide rate among First Nations youth is three times higher that of non-Indigenous populations in Canada,” Mamakwa said.

“How many more young people have to die before the government wakes up and sees that it is its job to provide supports to give Indigenous youth hope, to help them choose life over death?”

Ford’s Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Michael Tibollo, responded with a misleading statement, failing to acknowledge that his government voted against a special mental health and addictions strategy for Indigenous peoples.