APTN National News
A text to a friend saying goodbye.
That’s the last thing 12-year old Jenera Roundsky texted before her friend ran to save her.
But it was too late.
According to Wapekeka First Nation spokesperson Joshua Frogg, Roundsky had been in care of Tikinagan Child and Family Services.
She was identified as high-risk for suicide after two other 12-year-old girls took their lives in January. She was sent out to receive specialized care and sent home to the community about three weeks ago said Frogg.
“Against the advice of a psychiatrist that she was seeing. But Tikinagan insisted she was ready to come home,” said Frogg in a phone call with APTN National News.
Roundsky was found at the community’s outdoor hockey rink Thursday night. She was taken to the nursing station with serious trauma and pronounced dead at 11:17 pm.
Wapekeka, a fly-in Oji-Cree community of 430 members, sits about 600 km north of Thunder Bay.
“In shock, that’s all I can say right now,” said Chief Brennan Sainnawap in a phone call with APTN Wednesday morning.
The young child was living with her grandparents Elsie and Donny Roundsky. Her father Vernon “Baby Boy” Roundsky died by suicide in 2011 when she was just six-years-old.
Frogg said chief and council was concerned because they hadn’t seen a plan of care or safety plan prior to Roundsky returning home just weeks ago.
“We don’t have enough resources to monitor people 24/7 here. We try but we don’t have enough resources,” said Frogg.
The community has been working to get the necessary resources after the tragic deaths of Jolynn Winter on Jan. 8 and Chantal Fox on Jan. 10. Both girls died by suicide. Immediately after those deaths, high-risk youth were identified and flown out of the community to receive specialized care. Frogg said some are still out in different locations across the country including British Columbia, London and Edmonton.
“If they’ve received the appropriate care they should be home but there should be a plan of care and a health and safety plan in place for them,” said Frogg.
Wapekeka submitted a proposal to Health Canada in July 2016 to fund a suicide prevention program after a suicide pact involving several youth was discovered. That proposal was denied funding.
Health Canada has since committed $380,000 to Wapekeka but Frogg said they have yet to see it.
“It’s already June. We’re stressed to our bones to try to help our people here, help our children,” he said.
Mental health counsellors have been in the community on a rotating basis since January but Frogg said they now need more immediate support.
“This is just devastating for the community. We’re trying to recuperate and we’re trying to stabilize our community and now we’re just back to where we were,” said Frogg.
“It is concerning and it is sad that this child fell through that crack.”