Mental health service providers in Kenora are offering services in the wake of the announcement by Wauzhushk Onigum Nation that 171 plausible burials had been found at the former St. Mary’s Indian Residential School site.
The Kenora Youth Hub announced it was holding space and providing access to counselling support and traditional medicines as needed. It said because of current events, it would extend counselling services for people outside its 12-25 year old age service range. The agency offers counselling on a walk-in basis daily Monday through Friday from noon until 6 p.m.
The CMHA Kenora Branch posted a reminder that crisis workers were available 24/7.
The Lake of the Woods District Hospital also offered its support to the people of Wauzhushk Onigum and the wider community.
The hospital wanted people to know they were not alone and that outpatient counselling services and walk-in counselling weekly on Tuesday, is available for people needing help coping with the discovery.
“Everybody is different in terms of their response,” said Carolyn Voort, one of the managers for Lake of the Woods Hospital’s mental health and addiction programs.
“In terms of when we get this news, it just ricochets through our community, but it also, ricochets on an individual basis to for people just kind of trying to come to terms with it or even understand it.”
She said this kind of news will trigger a lot of other grief in terms of previous history for people. If they're noticing that they're just struggling more with some of their triggers, some of their emotions, they may want to consider accessing mental health services.
“I think for mental health, just noticing when [people are] just not feeling themselves or not reacting the way that they might normally react, [it] might be a time just to kind of check in with some natural supports as well as formal supports,” she said.
Voort said she decided with her staff in November to offer a walk in clinic for people that might not just access their services, and for those people that are kind of in crisis, in terms of wanting to come and talk to somebody.
“So anybody at any time over the age of 16 can come and when they come in they can pretty much access a counsellor right away,” she said.
The service is open from 2-7 p.m. on Tuesdays at St. Joseph Health Centre across from the hospital.