Youth in acute mental health crisis are sent to hospitals in Kenora or Thunder Bay to be stabilized, far from home and family. Rather than more psychiatric care, what they need next is a place where they can complete their journey of healing. Instead, released from hospital before they are stable enough, they return to the environment that first triggered the crisis – and the cycle starts all over again.
While some funding has been received for beds at our proposed Residential Youth Stabilization Centre – offering a safe, home-like setting and wraparound care – much more is needed before construction can start. Here children and youth aged 10-18 and their families can work together on long-term recovery, with the support of both community-based mental health services and the traditional healing of Knowledge Keepers and Elders.
Kids moving from Grade 8 to an off-reserve high school, or from Grade 12 to college, struggle with leaving home and mixing with people outside their own culture. Those who do enter mainstream education find themselves surrounded by – yet isolated from – their healthier and more experienced peers. This makes them easy prey for drug dealers and gangs because they so want to belong somewhere.
To help Indigenous youth develop a comfort level with kids from other cultures, forge a partnership with the Ontario Camping Association to reserve spaces for them at camps throughout Ontario, chosen for the diversity of both their locations and participants. Alternatively, start a summer camp at one of the First Nations, featuring traditional, land-based activities, and work with settlement and youth agencies from around the province to recruit diverse youth to attend with Indigenous youth.
As successful as it is, the KCA Family Rookie League could be even better if it accommodated different groups and skill levels in each community, and if this kind of sports activity was available year-round.
Add Women’s, T-ball (9 and under) and Fast-Pitch (15-19) baseball divisions and a school-based program to extend the season. Create Volleyball, Basketball, and Lacrosse Leagues modelled on the baseball program.