Thunder Bay

3rd girl involved in suicide pact dies in remote Ontario First Nation

A suicide pact in Wapekeka First Nation in northern Ontario has resulted in the death by suicide of a third 12-year-old girl.

Jenera Roundsky, 12, was deemed at high risk of harming herself after 2 friends died in January

A sense of shock pervades Wapekeka First Nation after a third 12-year-old girl took her own life, says band manager Joshua Frogg. (Martine Laberge/Radio-Canada)

A suicide pact in Wapekeka First Nation in northern Ontario has resulted in the death by suicide of a third 12-year-old girl.

Jenera Roundsky was declared dead on Tuesday night at the nursing station after being discovered at the community hockey rink by another child, according to Wapekeka band manager Joshua Frogg.

Roundsky was part of a suicide pact by young girls in Wapekeka discovered by community leaders last summer, Frogg said. Jolyn Winter and Chantel Fox, both 12 years old, took their own lives in January.

Frogg said Roundsky had been receiving mental health treatment outside the community until a few weeks ago when she was returned to Wapekeka against the wishes of the chief and council.

"There was no plan of care, there was no safety plan for her," Frogg said.

He said there is simply not enough support for all the children in crisis in the remote community of about 400 people, located approximately 450 kilometres north of Sioux Lookout, Ont. 

"We don't have enough personnel to keep watching people on a 24/7 basis that are at high risk, we try, but we just don't have the resources," he said.

'In shock, mourning'

Health Canada pledged $380,000 for a local suicide prevention initiative after the deaths of Winter and Fox. The First Nation's proposal had initially been refused by Health Canada six months earlier when the suicide pact was discovered.

Health Canada told CBC News last month that it would "continue to provide additional case management and mental health counselling supports for the months of May and June 2017."

But Frogg said emergency funding of $95,000 forwarded by the government in February has now run out and no new money has arrived.

"We've been in crisis since January," he said. "Today we're in shock, in mourning. It's just very, very sad."

Roundsky was remembered by chiefs from across Ontario who were gathered for their annual assembly on Wednesday.

"We stay up late at night worrying about our children," Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said in a speech. "Many of us are not in a position, because there are no adequate resources or capacity in our communities, to put in a plan that is more long term.

"We are so programmed to always be in this crisis state and that shouldn't be," Fiddler said.

Roundsky's suicide marks 17 reported deaths of a young person from a community within the Nishnawbe Aski Nation since Jan. 1. The 49 communities have a collective population of about 45,000 people, according to its website.