Grade 8 girl dies by suicide in Fort Chipewyan

People in the northern Alberta community of Fort Chipewyan are still trying to come to terms with the death of a Grade 8 girl who took her own life last week.

Funeral scheduled for tomorrow

The sun rises over Fort Chipewyan, a community of about 1,000 people on the western tip of Lake Athabasca in northern Alberta. (CBC)

People in the northern Alberta community of Fort Chipewyan are still trying to come to terms with the death of a young girl in the community last week.

The Grade 8 student at Athabasca Delta Community School took her own life.

“I think it’s touched everyone in the school and also other staff in the jurisdiction,” says Donna Barrett, superintendent of the Northland School Division, who flew into the community days after the girl’s death.

Barrett says she’s also heard from teachers in other schools who knew the girl.

“Here in Fort Chipewyan it's a close community, and people are connecting in their own way,” she says. “We have connections to the church here as well and both of the chiefs have been in touch with the school and offered supports.”

Some in the community say the girl was a target of bullying.

Barrett said she wasn't aware of the girl being bullied.

But she said all reports of bullying at the school are acted on immediately.

“I think it's important to debrief the situations with the students that are involved and help them find other strategies to deal with these kinds of issues.”

Barrett says this year the school hired a counsellor to help students deal with such issues.

Extra counsellors were flown into the community in the days after the girl's death to help students, staff and community members deal with the tragic loss.

The school was also open in the evening for community grieving sessions.

Its Christmas Concert has been cancelled.

The girl’s funeral is scheduled to take place tomorrow.