Thunder Bay·Photos

Neskantaga First Nation finds hope after suicide crisis

A new state-of-the-art training centre is helping grief-striken young people in Neskantaga First Nation consider a brighter future.

New high-tech training centre allows residents to receive job training without leaving home

A new state-of-the-art training centre is helping young people in Neskantaga First Nation consider a brighter future after a suicide epidemic struck the remote community, 480 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

Neskantaga declared a state of emergency in April 2013, after seven people killed themselves in less than a year.

But at the grand opening of the new building on Tuesday, people were feeling optimistic.

"I was excited to take the training and I was more excited and proud of myself that I completed," said Doreen Moonias, who was one of the members of the first 'mining essentials' class last November. 

There is no local high school in Neskantaga and until now people had to travel to an unfamiliar urban centre for any education beyond grade nine.

Moonias, a mother of four, says she couldn't leave them behind to pursue training elsewhere.

The Ontario government funded the new training centre with an eye to getting people in the community ready for future mining jobs expected in the nearby Ring of Fire.

The Aecon Group partnered with other big corporations such as ATCO, Bell Canada, Cisco Canada and Galaxy Satellite to design and build the centre. They worked in collaboration with Matawa First Nations' Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services.