Editorial: Lost in the Shadows

We are sadly reminded once again of the continued suffering of many of our First Nations people, including communities here.

As the federal government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission wrapped up this weekend in Edmonton, we are sadly reminded once again of the continued suffering of many of our First Nations people, including communities here.

Government officials met in Victoria last week with the author of the report Lost in the Shadows: How a Lack of Help Meant a Loss of Hope for One First Nations Girl.

The report was released in February and recounts the tragic life and death of a 14-year-old girl from Anaham Reserve, who took her own life just two weeks shy of her 15th birthday in 2011.

The independent report tells a tragic tale of untreated mental illness and inadequate government services, placing heavy blame for the girl’s death on the failings of those government safety nets, particularly the local Ministry of Children and Family Development.

It is truly unimaginable to believe that this happened here — only three years ago.

When the report was released, the author requested that the public and media respect the privacy of the family and the community.

However, Anaham Chief Joe Alphonse stepped forward, acknowledging the young victim was from his community.

In doing so, Alphonse is inviting everyone into the discussion for a better future for his people and that of many other First Nations communities across the province.

Our condolences go out to the family and community, who are still grieving the loss of this little girl.

As we delve into this detailed report and its lengthy recommendations in the coming weeks and months, we hope to achieve exactly what the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission is trying to do — and that is to identify a healthy way forward, together, and ensure these tragedies don’t ever happen again.

– Williams Lake Tribune

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