A service supporting youth dealing with mental health concerns will see a major expansion after an investment from the provincial government.

Kenora – Rainy River MPP, Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Minister of Northern Development, Greg Rickford joined Associate Minister for Mental Health and Addictions, Michael Tibollo, in Kenora today to announce a $1.7 million investment into the Kenora Chiefs Advisory’s Youth and Family Wellness Camp.

The camp is located on a 327-acre plot of land down Strecker Road. It’s home to KCA’s Binesi Waziswan Youth Mental Wellness Services, which provides youth with opportunities to live on the property, connect with their culture and receive teachings from community elders.

KCA says with the $1.7 million of support from Ontario’s Ministry of Health, they can expand the camp’s number of on-site intensive treatment beds from 2 to 8, allowing them to serve and help more at-risk youth with complex needs throughout the region.

“I am confident that youth in the Kenora area will benefit from a safe place to receive treatment, resulting in better outcomes for the entire community,” says Rickford. “Mental health is health, and our government is focused on making targeted investments that further our collective prosperity and ensure youth have the best opportunity to lead prosperous lives.”

Greg Rickford

Earlier this year, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation pledged just under $500,000 to KCA and the camp for a new kitchen, laundry room, bathroom and shower facility – as the site is the host of many large events, including annual National Day of Truth and Reconciliation activities in 2021 and 2022.

As well, Ontario is further investing in the community’s Makwa Patrol.

Ontario is also pledging an additional $110,000 into the service to help the Makwa Patrol and KCA increase awareness about cybercrime throughout the region, as staff work collaboratively with community partners and local law enforcement.

“As we continue to expand and grow our programming to best meet the needs of our community members, I’m grateful we can continue our close partnership with the province and offer programming as you can see from the two announcements today in a wide variety of areas,” said Chief Chris Skead, Wauzhushk Onigum Nation.

“By working with Makwa Patrol and providing this funding- it allows for a huge opportunity in terms of battling racism and allowing the public to hear from our most vulnerable, and the very real lived experiences they have," adds Skead. 

We must take the stigma away from those who are in a tough position right now and show compass, empathy, and support. By enabling us to share those voices and stories I think it will go a long way in terms of public perception and helping educate and teach about the very real system gaps and missed services these people face," Skead finishes. 

The Makwa Patrol began their service in Kenora in July, 2020 as the Bear Clan Patrol – after a multi-partner collaboration and support from the provincial government. They became the Makwa Patrol by September, 2020, and staff celebrated their two-year anniversary last month.

The Makwa Patrol is hosting a Winter Warmth Drive this month. You can find more information HERE.